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IN    THE 







A  qxiella  Luce  cotal  si  diventa, 
Che  volgersi  da  lei  per  altro  aspetto 
£  impossibil  che  mai  si  consenta. 




[ All  rights  reserved] 





1.  Faith. 

Rev.  H.  S.  HOLLAND,  M.A.,  Canon  of  St.  Paul's,  some- 
time Senior  Student  of  Christ  Church. 

2.  The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God. 

Eev.  AUBREY  MOORE,  M.A.,  Hon.  Canon  of  Christ  Church, 
Tutor  of  Magdalen  and  Keble  Colleges. 

3.  The  Problem  of  Pain :  its  bearing  on  faith  in  God. 

Rev.  J.  R.  ILLINGWORTH,  M.A.,  Rector  of  Longworth, 
sometime  Fellow  of  Jesus  and  Tutor  of  Kehle 

4.  The  Preparation  in  History  for  Christ. 

Rev.  E.  S.  TALBOT,  D.D.,  Vicar  of  Leeds,  sometime 
"Warden  of  Keble  College. 

5.  The  Incarnation  in  relation  to  Development. 


6.  The  Incarnation  as  the  Basis  of  Dogma. 

Rev.  R.  C.  MOBERLT,  M.A.,  Vicar  of  Great  Budworth, 
sometime  Senior  Student  of  Christ  Church. 

7.  The  Atonement. 

Rev.  and  Hon.  ARTHUR  LITTELTON,  M.A.,  Master  of 
Selwyn  College,  Cambridge,  sometime  Tutor  of 
Keble  College. 

vi  Essays  and  Contributors, 

8.  The  Holy  Spirit  and  Inspiration. 

Rev.  C.  GOKE,  M.A.,  Principal  of  Pusey  House,  Fellow 
of  Trinity  College. 

9.  The  Church. 

Rev.  W.  LOCK,  M.A.,  Sub- Warden  of  Keble  and  Fellow 
of  Magdalen  Colleges. 

10.  Sacraments. 

Rev.  F.  PAGET,  D.D.,  Canon  of  Christ  Church,  and  Regius 
Professor  of  Pastoral  Theology. 

11.  Christianity  and  Politics. 

Rev.  W.  J.  H.  CAMPION,  M.A.,  Tutor  of  Keble  College. 

12.  Christian  Ethics. 

Rev.  R.  L.  OTTLEY,  M.A.,  Vice-Principal  of  Cuddesdon, 
late  Senior  Student  of  Christ  Church. 


1.  THIS  volume  is  primarily  due  to  a  set  of  circumstances 
which  exists  no  longer.     The  writers   found   themselves   at 
Oxford  together  between  the  years  1875-1885,  engaged  in  the 
common  work  of  University  education;   and  compelled  for 
their  own  sake,  no  less  than  that  of  others,  to  attempt  to  put 
the  Catholic  faith  into  its  right  relation  to  modern  intellectual 
and  moral  problems.     Such  common  necessity  and  effort  led 
to   not   infrequent   meetings,   in  which  a   common    body   of 
thought  and  sentiment,  and  a  common  method  of  commending 
the  faith  to  the  acceptance  of  others,  tended  to  form  itself. 
We,  who  once  enjoyed  this  happy  companionship,  are  now 
for  the  most  part  separated.     But  at  least  some  result  of  our 
temporary  association  remains,  which  it  is  hoped  may  justify 
and  explain  the  present  volume. 

2.  For  this  collection  of  essays  represents  an  attempt  on 
behalf  of  the   Christian  Creed   in  the  way   of  explanation. 
We  are  sure  that  Jesus  Christ  is  still  and  will  continue  to  be 
the  '  Light  of  the  world.'     We  are  sure  that  if  men  can  rid 
themselves  of  prejudices  and  mistakes  (for  which,  it  must  be 
said,  the  Church  is  often  as  responsible  as  they),  and  will 
look  afresh  at  what  the  Christian  faith  really  means,  they 
will  find  that  it  is  as  adequate  as  ever  to  interpret  life  and 
knowledge    in  its   several  departments,    and   to   impart   not 
less  intellectual  than  moral  freedom.     But  we  are  conscious 
also  that  if  the  true   meaning   of  the  faith  is  to  be  made 
sufficiently    conspicuous    it    needs    disencumbering,   reinter- 
preting,  explaining.     We    can    but    quote   in    this    sense   a 

viii  Preface. 

distinguished  French  writer  who  has  often  acted  as  an 
inspiration  to  many  of  us.  Pere  Gratry  felt  painfully  that 
the  dogmas  of  the  Church  were  but  as  an  '  unknown  tongue  ' 
to  many  of  the  best  of  his  compatriots.  '  It  is  not  enough,'  he 
said,  '  to  utter  the  mysteries  of  the  Spirit,  the  great  mysteries 
of  Christianity,  in  formulas,  true  before  God,  but  not  under- 
stood of  the  people.  The  apostle  and  the  prophet  are  precisely 
those  who  have  the  gift  of  interpreting  these  obscure  and 
profound  formulas  for  each  man  and  each  age.  To  translate 
into  the  common  tongue  the  mysterious  and  sacred  language 
....  to  speak  the  word  of  God  afresh  in  each  age,  in  ac- 
cordance with  both  the  novelty  of  the  age  and  the  eternal 
antiquity  of  the  truth,  this  is  what  S.  Paul  means  by  inter- 
preting the  unknown  tongue.  But  to  do  this,  the  first  con- 
dition is  that  a  man  should  appreciate  the  times  he  lives  in. 
"  Hoc  autem  tempus  quare  non  probatis  l  ?  " 

3.  We  have  written  then  in  this  volume  not  as  '  guessers 
at  truth,'  but  as  servants  of  the  Catholic  Creed  and  Church, 
aiming  only  at  interpreting  the  faith  we  have  received.  On 
the  other  hand,  we  have  written  with  the  conviction  that  the 
epoch  in  which  we  live  is  one  of  profound  transformation, 
intellectual  and  social,  abounding  in  new  needs,  new  points  of 
view,  new  questions ;  and  certain  therefore  to  involve  great 
changes  in  the  outlying  departments  of  theology,  where  it 
is  linked  on  to  other  sciences,  and  to  necessitate  some  general 
restatement  of  its  claim  and  meaning. 

This  is  to  say  that  theology  must  take  a  new  development. 
We  grudge  the  name  development,  on  the  one  hand,  to  any- 
thing which  fails  to  preserve  the  type  of  the  Christian  Creed 
and  the  Christian  Church ;  for  development  is  not  innovation, 
it  is  not  heresy :  on  the  other  hand,  we  cannot  recognise  as 
the  true  '  development  of  Christian  doctrine,'  a  movement 
which  means  merely  an  intensification  of  a  current  tendency 

1  Gratry,  Henri  Perreyve,  Paris  1880,  p.  162. 

Preface.  ix 

from  within,  a  narrowing  and  hardening  of  theology  by  simply 
giving  it  greater  definiteness  or  multiplying  its  dogmas. 

The  real  development  of  theology  is  rather  the  process  in 
which  the  Church,  standing  firm  in  her  old  truths,  enters  into 
the  apprehension  of  the  new  social  and  intellectual  movements 
of  each  age:  and  because  'the  truth  makes  her  free'  is  able 
to  assimilate  all  new  material,  to  welcome  and  give  its  place 
to  all  new  knowledge,  to  throw  herself  into  the  sanctification 
of  each  new  social  order,  bringing  forth  out  of  her  treasures 
things  new  and  old,  and  shewing  again  and  again  her  power 
of  witnessing  under  changed  conditions  to  the  catholic  capacity 
of  her  faith  and  life. 

4.  To  such  a  development  these  studies  attempt  to  be  a 
contribution.  They  will  be  seen  to  cover,  more  or  less,  the 
area  of  the  Christian  faith  in  its  natural  order  and  sequence 
of  parts,  but  the  intention  is  not  to  offer  complete  theological 
treatises,  or  controversial  defences  of  religious  truths:  it  is 
rather  to  present  positively  the  central  ideas  and  principles  of 
religion,  in  the  light  of  contemporary  thought  and  current 
problems.  The  only  one  of  the  essays  in  fact  which  has  any 
degree  of  formal  completeness,  is  that  on  Christian  Ethics, 
a  subject  on  which  the  absence  of  systematic  books  of  a 
genuine  English  growth  seems  to  justify  a  more  detailed 

5.  The  main  omissions  of  which  we  are  conscious  are  due  to 
want  of  space.  For  instance,  we  should  have  been  very  glad 
to  attempt  a  separate  treatment  of  the  subject  of  sin ;  though 
we  hope  the  line  that  would  be  taken  about  it  has  been 
sufficiently  indicated  by  more  than  one  writer1.  Again,  we 
have  left  aside  any  detailed  discussion  of  historical  evidences  ; 
but  it  will  be  seen  that  our  attempt  has  been  so  to  present  the 
principles  of  the  Christian  faith  as  to  suggest  the  point  of 
view  from  which  evidences  are  intelligible,  and  from  which 

1  See  pp.  208-211,  292-3,  318-20,  475-6. 

x  Preface. 

they  will,  it  is  firmly  believed,  be  found  satisfactory.  Once 
more,  if  we  have  not  found  room  for  a  treatment  of 
miracles,  at  least  we  hope  that  the  Church's  conception  of 
God,  as  He  manifests  Himself  in  nature  and  in  grace,  which 
we  have  endeavoured  to  express,  will  at  once  acquit  us  of  any 
belief  in  capricious  '  violations  of  law  ; '  and  will  also  suggest 
a  view  of  the  world  as  disordered  by  sin  and  crying  out  for 
redemption,  which  will  make  it  intelligible  that  '  miracles ' 
should  appear,  not  as  violating  law,  but  as  a  necessary 
element  in  its  restoration  as  well  as  its  completer  exhibition ; 
contrary,  not  to  the  fundamental  order  of  the  Divine  work- 
ing, but  only  to  a  superficial  or  mechanical  view  of  it,  or 
to  a  view  which  sin  has  distorted  or  preoccupation  with 
physical  science  has  unduly  narrowed. 

6.  It  only  remains  to  explain  that  we  have  written  not 
as  mere  individuals,  but  as  ministers,  under  common  conditions, 
of  a  common  faith.  This  unity  of  conviction  has  enabled  us 
freely  to  offer  and  accept  mutual  criticism  and  suggestion  ;  so 
that  without  each  of  us  professing  such  responsibility  for  work 
other  than  his  own,  as  would  have  involved  undue  interference 
with  individual  method,  we  do  desire  this  volume  to  be 
the  expression  of  a  common  mind  and  a  common  hope. 

C.  G. 


Michaelmas,  1889. 


The  author  of  the  Essay  The  Holy  Spirit  and  Inspiration 
has  endeavoured  to  obviate  further  misunderstanding  of  his 
meaning  on  one  important  point  by  rewriting  some  sentences 
on  pp.  359-60,  in  accordance  with  the  Corrigenda  inserted  in 
the  Fourth  Edition. 



THERE  are  two  things  which  may  fairly  be  regretted  in 
regard  to  the  criticisms — often  the  very  kind  and  encourag- 
ing criticisms — which  this  book  has  received.  There  is, 
first,  the  disproportionate  attention  which  has  been  given 
to  some  twenty  pages  on  the  subject  of  the  inspiration  of 
Holy  Scripture,  an  attention  so  disproportionate  as  to  defeat 
the  object  which  the  writers  had  in  view  in  assigning  to 
that  subject  its  place  in  the  general  treatment  of  the  work 
of  the  Holy  Spirit — the  object,  namely,  of  giving  it  its  proper 
context  in  the  whole  body  of  Christian  truth :  and  there  is, 
secondly,  the  fact  that  we  have  not  generally  succeeded  in 
gaining  the  attention  of  our  critics  to  the  point  of  view  from 
which  these  '  studies '  were  written,  and  the  purpose  they  were 
intended  to  serve. 

Our  purpose  was  'to  succour  a  distressed  faith'  by  en- 
deavouring to  bring  the  Christian  Creed  into  its  right  relation 
to  the  modern  growth  of  knowledge,  scientific,  historical,  cri- 
tical; and  to  the  modern  problems  of  politics  and  ethics1.  We 
were  writing  as  for  Christians,  but  as  for  Christians  perplexed 
by  new  knowledge  which  they  are  required  to  assimilate  and 
new  problems  with  which  they  are  required  to  deal.  What  is 
needed  to  help  men  in  such  perplexity  is  not  compromise,  for 

1  By  the  phrase  '  to  attempt  to  put  ance   and  the  faith   only  secondary, 

the  Catholic  faith  into  its  right  re-  What    was    intended    was    that,    as 

lation    to    modern    intellectual    and  holding  the  Faith,  we  needed,  as  the 

moral  problems '    (Preface    to    First  Church  has  often  needed,  to  bring  that 

Edition)    it  was  not   by  any  means  with  which  we  are   ourselves  iden- 

intended  to  suggest  that  the  modern  tified,   into   relation   to   the   claims, 

problems    or    the    modern    sciences  intellectual  and  practical,  made  upon 

were  the  things  of  the  first  import-  us  from  outside. 

xii  Preface  to 

compromise  generally  means  tampering  with  principle,  but 
readjustment,  or  fresh  correlation,  of  the  things  of  faith 
and  the  things  of  knowledge.  In  detail  this  will,  no  doubt, 
involve  concessions,  and  that  on  both  sides,  because  both  sides 
have  been  liable  to  make  mistakes  l ;  but  in  the  main  what  is 
to  be  looked  for  is  a  reconciliation  which  shall  at  once  set  the 
scientific  and  critical  movement,  so  far  as  it  is  simply  scien- 
tific and  critical,  free  from  the  peril  of  irreligion,  and  the 
religious  movement  free  from  the  imputation  of  hostility  to 
new  knowledge — as  free  as  any  movement  can  be,  which  is 
intensely  concerned  to  nourish  and  develop  what  is  per- 
manent and  unchanging  in  human  life.  Such  a  reconciliation 
has  more  than  once  been  effected  in  the  past,  though  never 
without  a  preliminary  period  of  antagonism  2  :  our  confidence 
that  it  will  be  effected  anew  in  the  future  lies  partly  in  the 
fact  that  we  see  it  already  taking  place  in  some  minds  which 
seem  to  us  to  represent  the  best  life  and  thought  of  our  time 
both  scientific  and  religious.  One  such  at  least3  we  knew 
and  have  lost,  though  only  from  present  intercourse,  in 
Aubrey  Moore.  Nobody  could  know  him  and  think  of  him 
as  '  compromising '  either  his  faith  or  his  science.  He  lived 
primarily  and  with  deepest  interest  in  his  religious  life  and 
theological  study,  but  he  lived  also  with  intense  reality  in 
the  life  of  science.  And  the  debt  we  owe  to  him,  over  and 
above  the  debt  under  which  his  personal  character  lays  us  for 
ever,  is  that  of  having  let  us  see  how  the  two  lives  of  faith 
and  of  science  can  melt  into  one.  He  felt  indeed  and  wrestled 
with  the  difficulties  of  adjustment.  He  had  not,  as  it  seemed  to 

1  Cf.  Dr.  Pusey,  University  Sermons,  of    Christianity    to    the    Copernican 
1864-1879.     '  Unscience,  not  science,  astronomy:     Salmon,    Infallibility    of 
contrary  to  faith,'  pp.  18  ff.  the  Church,  p.  230. 

2  Cf.  the  history  of  the  relations  of  :i  See  the  tribute  to  his  memory  by 
the  Church  to  Aristotelian  philosophy:  Mr.  G.  J.  Romanes  :  G-uardian,  Jan.  29, 
Milman,  Latin  Christianity,  ed.  4,  vol.  1890. 

ix.  pp.  no  S.  ;  and  later  the  relations 

the   Tenth  Edition.  xiii 

us,  nearly  finished  his  work  in  this  respect.  But  he  had  done 
enough  for  our  encouragement :  enough  to  help  us  to  believe 
that  the  best  minds  of  the  future  are  to  be  neither  religious 
minds  defying  scientific  advance,  nor  scientific  minds  denying 
religion,  but  minds  in  which  religion  interprets  and  is  inter- 
preted by  science,  in  which  faith  and  enquiry  subsist  together 
and  reinforce  one  another.  The  reason  why  he  should  have 
been  so  soon  taken  from  us  and  from  the  Church  on  earth — 
taken  when  '  our  need  was  the  sorest ' — lies  in  the  im- 
penetrable mysteries  of  God.  '  Si  dolemus  ablatum,  non 
tamen  obliviscimur  quod  datus  fuit,  et  gratias  agimus  quod 
habere  ilium  meruimus  .  .  .  Pusillus  corde  eram  et  confortabat 
me ;  piger  et  negligens,  et  excitabat  me  V 


It  seems  to  us  that  a  due  regard  to  the  point  of  view  from 
which  these  studies  were  written  would  have  obviated  some 
of  the  criticisms  upon  them.  For  instance,  it  would  have 
explained  why  we  forbore  to  enter  upon  the  questions  which 
may  be  raised  as  to  the  seat  and  methods  of  Church  autho- 
rity. It  was  because  these  questions  do  not  arise  practically 
till  the  work  has  been  done  to  which  we  were  attempting  to 
minister.  When  a  man  is  once  reassured  that  his  faith  in 
Christ  is  capable  of  rational  justification,  he  begins  naturally 
to  enquire  what  exactly  the  Christian  religion  involves  in 
this  or  that  detail,  and  how  its  manifestly  authoritative 
character,  as  a  Divine  Revelation,  is  to  find  expression :  but 
these  enquiries  hardly  begin  till  the  preliminary  reassurance 
has  been  gained. 

The  moral  authority  of  Christianity,  of  Christian  lives  and 
characters,  does  indeed  exercise  a  determining  influence  on  the 

1  From  S.  Bernard's  most  touching  sermon  (in  Cant.  26)  on  the  death  of  his 
brother  Gerard. 

xiv  Preface  to 

promotion  and  recovery  of  faith  ;  but  men  do  not  often  either 
win  a  hold  on  the  creed  for  the  first  time,  or  recover  it  where  it 
has  been  lost  or  impaired,  because  the  theological  authority  of 
the  Church  enables  them  to  take  it  on  trust.  The  very 
grounds  of  that  authority  are  for  the  moment  too  much  in 
question  to  admit  of  the  proper  amount  of  deference  being 
oiven  to  it.  Thus  it  seemed  to  us  better  in  this  volume  to  be 


content  with  general  statements  as  to  the  principle  of  Church 
authority1,  leaving  out  its  detailed  discussion  as  unsuitable  to 
our  present  purpose. 

Of  course,  however,  we  were  conscious  all  the  time  that  we 
were  ourselves  amenable  to  the  bar  of  authority  and  were 
bound  to  feel  sure  that  nothing  we  were  saying  was  trans- 
gressing the  laws  which  the  Catholic  Church  has  laid  down. 
We  should  indeed  be  unanimous  in  disclaiming  any  desire  to 
have  '  license  to  say  what  we  please '  in  our  position  as  Church 
teachers.  All  meaning  would  be  taken  out  of  the  effort  and 
hope  this  book  represents  if  we  could  not  believe  that  we  were 
speaking  as  the  Church  would  have  us  speak.  As  the  essay  on 
Inspiration  has  been  chiefly  called  in  question  on  the  ground  of 
authority,  the  author  of  it  must  be  allowed  to  plead  that  he  did 
assure  himself  he  was  saying  nothing  which  the  Church  in  her 
past  action  had  not  left  him  free  to  say,  while  for  the  future 
he  does  earnestly  desire  in  due  course,  and  after  due  enquiry, 
an  action  of  Church  authority  on  the  relation  of  modern 
critical  methods  to  the  doctrine  of  Inspiration  ;  and  further 
he  believes  that  the  Anglican  churches,  holding  as  they  do  so 
conspicuous  a  place  in  traditional  reverence  for  the  Scriptures, 
while  they  are  so  free  on  the  other  hand  from  the  obscu- 
rantist fear  of  historical  enquiry,  are  more  likely  than  any 
other  part  of  the  Church  to  arrive  at  determinations  on  the 
subject  such  as  will  be  of  material  service  to  the  whole  of 

1  See  Essay  VI.  pp.  226-227,  250  ff.  ;  Essay  VIII.  pp.  324-327  ;  and  Essay  IX. 
PP-  384-390- 

the   Tenth  Edition.  xv 

Christendom.     But  for  the  present  there  can  be  no  doubb  the 
subject  is  not  ripe  for  any  official  or  formal  determinations. 


It  seems  to  us  also  that  some  of  the  criticisms  on  the 
treatment  of  Inspiration  in  Essay  VIII,  which  shall  be 
presently  dealt  with,  have  been  due  to  the  same  forgetful- 
ness  of  the  writer's  aim,  and  of  the  general  aim  of  the  whole 
book.  Our  traditional  belief  in  the  Bible  is  at  the  present 
time  confronted  with  a  body  of  critical  literature  which 
claims  to  overthrow  a  great  many  of  the  accepted  opinions 
about  the  Old  Testament  Scriptures.  The  criticism  is  at  least 
grave  and  important  enough  to  claim  attention,  to  necessitate 
that  we  should  come  to  a  more  or  less  clear  understanding 
of  the  relation  in  which  our  faith  stands  towards  it.  The 
writer  of  the  essay  did  not  write  as  a  biblical  critic  but  as  a 
theological  student  and  teacher,  bound  to  give  a  candid  con- 
sideration to  a  criticism  which  bears  directly  upon  the  sacred 
books  of  our  religion.  His  object  was  not  to  discuss  and 
determine  questions  of  biblical  criticism,  but  to  explain,  as 
it  appears  to  him,  the  relation  which  theology  is  to  take  up 
towards  them.  And  he  wrote  'in  the  mind  of  those  who 
have  felt  the  trouble  in  the  air  : '  he  wrote  to  succour  a  faith 
distressed  by  the  problems  criticism  is  raising.  That  faith  is 
very  widely  distressed  by  them,  and  that  not  merely  in 
academic  circles,  does  not  admit  of  question.  Nor  did  it 
seem  to  him  to  admit  of  question  that  the  best  way  to  deal 
with  this  distress  was  not  to  attempt  to  solve  problems, 
which,  because  of  the  immense  area  over  which  discussion 
ranges,  do  not  admit  of  ready  solutions ;  but  to  attempt 
to  state  the  main  conclusions  criticism  is  claiming  to  have 
arrived  at,  as  the  critics  themselves  would  have  us  state  them  ; 
to  show  that  our  Christian  faith  is  not  vitally  affected  by 

xvi  Preface  to 

them ;  and  so  to  divert  an  anxious  mind  from  problems 
which  it  cannot  solve,  at  least  at  present,  and  fix  it  on  the 
central  truths  of  our  religion,  helping  it  to  feel  how,  if  it  be 
once  grounded  on  these  central  truths,  the  issue  of  the  critical 
discussion  can  be  awaited,  with  keen  interest  indeed,  but  with- 
out alarm.  But  this  assurance  of  mind  in  face  of  the  critical 
controversy  is  only  possible  if  we  see  that  the  critical  positions 
are  in  fact  compatible  with  the  real  inspiration  of  Holy 
Scripture.  Now  the  best  way  to  give  reassurance  on  this 
point  seemed  to  be  for  the  writer  to  make  it  plain  that  he 
himself  felt  the  great  force  and  appeal  of  the  critical  case, 
and  that  his  conviction  that  the  real  Inspiration  of  the  Old 
Testament  was  unaffected  by  it,  did  not  depend  upon  its  being 
underrated.  Had  the  main  purpose  of  the  writer  been  to  help 
to  determine  critical  positions,  he  would  have  been  bound 
to  write  both  at  greater  length  and  also  with  more  exact- 
ness and  discrimination.  But  on  the  other  hand,  the  purpose 
of  reassurance  would  have  had  less  chance  of  being  success- 
fully accomplished — as  in  some  cases  we  have  reason  to 
believe  with  thankfulness  that  it  has  been  accomplished  or 
assisted — if  the  writer  had  been  more  reluctant  to  accept,  at 
least  hypothetically,  what  are  claimed  as  critical  results.  We 
all  know  by  experience  that  freedom  and  happiness  in  our 
attitude  as  Christians  towards  problems  not  easily  solved,  or 
even  easily  brought  to  crucial  tests,  are  most  readily  secured 
if  we  can  feel  that  our  faith  is,  at  the  last  resort,  inde- 
pendent of  the  exact  solution  arrived  at.  Thus  our  object 
was  to  give  to  anxious  enquirers,  of  whom  there  are  surely 
an  immense  number  most  deserving  of  any  help  which  can  be 
given  them,  a  freedom  in  regard  to  Old  Testament  problems 
as  wide  as  the  Catholic  faith  seemed  to  warrant. 

the  Tenth  Edition.  xvii 


We  cannot  but  accept  the  very  general  suggestion  of  our 
critics  that  we  ought  to  have  attempted  a  separate  treatment 
of  the  problem  of  sin.  Some  such  treatment  is  now  offered 
in  the  second  appendix,  and  offered  in  the  form  of  a  re- 
publication  of  what  has  previously  seen  the  light,  so  that  it 
may  be  plain  that  the  absence  of  it  from  earlier  editions 
was  not  due  to  lack  of  conviction  or  unwillingness  to  deal 
with  the  subject.  The  appendix  is  not  in  fact  more  than  a 
drawing  out  of  what  is  involved  in  some  passages  of  the  essays 
taken  together  l.  Thus  the  fifth  essay  takes  up  a  very  clear 
position  as  to  the  practical  aspect  which  sin  bears  in  human 
life.  The  fact  is  emphasized  that  sin,  as  our  moral  con- 
sciousness knows  it  and  Christianity  has  successfully  dealt 
with  it,  is  a  phenomenon  unique  in  the  world : — it  is  what 
nothing  else  is,  violation  of  law.  Now  this  is  the  essence  of 
the  Christian  doctrine  of  sin,  as  S.  John  states  it :  '  Sin  is 
lawlessness2.'  Sin  and  lawlessness  are  coincident  terms. 
This  view  of  sin  is  primarily  practical;  it  may  be  repre- 
sented in  fact  as  a  postulate  required  for  successfully  dealing 
with  sin,  a  postulate  justified  and  verified  by  its  results. 
But  because  it  is  thus  verified  and  justified,  it  passes  like  any 
other  hypothesis  which  explains  facts,  in  proportion  to  the 
range  and  thoroughness  of  the  experience  which  tests  it,  out 
of  the  region  of  mere  working  hypotheses  into  that  of  ac- 
cepted truths.  Thus  it  is  to  the  Christian  consciousness  an 
accepted  truth,  that  sin,  all  down  the  long  history  of  hu- 
manity, has  been  a  violation  of  the  divine  order,  a  refusal  of 
obedience,  a  corruption  of  man's  true  nature.  Sin,  as  such, 
has  always  been  a  source  of  confusion,  not  of  progress.  We 

1  See  Preface,  p.  ix.  note  l. 

2  Cf.  Dr.  Westcott's  note  on  I  S.  John  iii.  4,  77  dfiapria  karlv  rj  dvo^ia. 


xviii  Preface  to 

can  indeed  recognise  how  the  movement  and  development  in 
humanity  has  frequently  l  been  in  fact  conditioned  by  sin ; 
but  we  should  still  contend  that  it  has  never  been  the  sin  in 
itself  which  has  been  the  spring  of  force  and  progress,  but 
the  faculties  of  will  and  intellect  which  sin  was  using. 
Always  the  will  and  intellect  would  have  worked  better 
and  more  fruitfully  in  the  result  if  they  had  been  free 
from  the  taint  of  selfishness  and  rebellion  against  God. 
Always  sin,  as  such,  has  been  a  lowering  and  not  a  raising 
of  human  life :  a  fall  and  not  a  rise.  Thus  sin  at  the  begin- 
ning of  human  life  must  have  been  not  merely  the  awaken- 
ing of  moral  consciousness,  but  the  obscuring  and  tainting 
of  it  by  lawlessness  and  disobedience.  Sin,  as  all  down  its 
history,  so  in  its  origin,  is  a  fall ;  a  fall,  moreover,  entailing 
consequences  on  those  who  come  after,  in  virtue  of  the  in- 
violable solidarity  of  the  human  race.  To  this  view  of  sin 
original  and  actual,  Christianity  appears  to  be  bound ;  and  it 
is  a  view  that,  as  we  have  now  endeavoured  to  show 2,  brings 
us  into  no  conflict  with  scientific  discovery.  For  science 
never  attempts  to  prove  that  man  might  not  have  developed 
otherwise  than  as  in  fact  he  has,  or  that  the  actual  development 
has  been  the  best  possible  :  nor  has  Christianity  ever  in  its  best 
representatives,  certainly  not  in  its  patristic  representatives, 
been  identified  with  a  denial  that  human  history  as  a  whole 
has  been  a  development  upwards  from  below3.  The  Old 
Testament  is  in  fact  among  ancient  literatures,  the  literature 
of  development,  of  progress  4. 

1  Cf.  F.  Lenormant,  Les  Origims  de          *  Cf.   F.    Lenormant,  Les    Origines, 
Vhistoire.      Paris,    1880,  t.    i,   p.    191.  t.  I,  pp.  63-66.  It  is  a  pleasure  to  refer 
'  C'est  dans  la  race  de  Qain  que  la  to    this    work    by    a    distinguished 
Bible  place  1'invention  des  arts  et  des  Catholic  and  man  of  learning.     The 
metiers.    "  Les  fils  du  siecle  sont  plus  Preface  is  an  admirable  discussion  of 
habiles  que  les  enfants  de  lumiere."'  the  relation  of  scientific  enquiry  to 

2  Cf.  p.  534.  belief  in  Inspiration. 

3  Cf.  p.  535.  note  i. 

the   Tenth  Edition.  xix 


The  criticisms  on  our  treatment  of  Inspiration  have  been  so 
abundant,  and  have  gone  into  such  detail,  that  it  will  be 
obvious  that  any  attempt  to  reply  to  them  must  be  a  more 
individual  effort  than  the  attempt  to  reply  to  the  criticisms 
on  the  general  aim  and  spirit  of  the  book.  For  while  the 
writers  in  this  volume  are  at  one  as  to  the  general  attitude 
which  they  would  wish  the  Church  to  assume  towards  the 
critical  treatment  of  the  Old  Testament,  as  they  are  at  one  in 
the  general  line  of  treatment  adopted  throughout  this  volume, 
they  cannot  pretend  to  be  at  one  on  all  the  details  of  a 
complicated  subject.  The  writer  of  the  particular  essay  alone 
can  be  responsible  for  these :  and  with  reference  to  them  he 
must  be  understood  to  speak  simply  in  his  own  person. 

i .  The  passage  about  Inspiration  was  written  under  the  con- 
viction that  recent  criticism  of  the  Old  Testament  represents 
a  real  advance  in  analytical  method  as  applied  to  literature, 
and  thus  a  most  serious  movement  of  thought.  As  such  it  has 
been  estimated  by  the  Bishop  of  Oxford  in  his  recent  Charge. 
He  says,  '  The  Holy  Scriptures  of  the  Old  Testament  are  now 
going  through  a  process  of  analytical  criticism  which  has,  as 
we  believe,  had  no  parallel,  for  acuteness  of  investigation, 
carefulness  of  method,  and  completeness  of  apparatus,  since  the 
days  in  which  they  began  to  be  regarded  as  a  code  of  in- 
spired literature,  and  certainly  not  since  the  days  of  our 
blessed  Lord's  life  on  earth ;  at  which  period  we  understand 
that  to  all  intents  and  purposes  the  books  which  we  receive, 
as  the  Canonical  Old  Testament  Scriptures,  had  taken  their 
existing  form1.'  But  like  the  scientific  movement  of  our  time, 
the  critical  movement  has  been  accompanied  by  all  the  arbitra- 
riness and  tendency  to  push  things  to  extremes  which  appears 

1  Oxford  Diocesan  Gazette,  July,  1890  (Parker,  Oxford),  p.  91. 

b  2 

xx  Preface  to 

to  be  an  almost  inseparable  attendant  upon  living  and  vigorous 
movements,  ecclesiastical  and  secular.  Further  than  this,  its 
representatives  have  been — and  here  again  the  conditions  of 
the  scientific  movement  are  reproduced — very  frequently  men 
personally  opposed  to  the  Christian  faith,  and  even  thoroughly 
rationalistic  in  temper  and  tone.  But  it  does  not  follow  in 
the  case  of  criticism,  any  more  than  in  the  case  of  science, 
that  we  are  not  to  learn  a  great  deal  from  a  movement  charac- 
terized even  predominantly  by  '  extremeness  '  and  unbelief. 
And  in  fact,  in  the  past  fifty  years  there  appears  to  have  been 
a  solid  critical  advance,  underneath  a  great  deal  of  contro- 
versial arbitrariness  and  irreligious  insolence.  Now  I  thought 
that  I  should  best  serve  the  purpose  with  which  I  was  writing, 
if  I  went  as  far  as  I  could  in  ungrudging  recognition  of  the 
claims  of  criticism,  and  involved  myself  as  little  as  possible 
in  doubtful  discussions  ;  but  I  did  also  intend  to  express,  and 
beli eved  myself  to  have  expressed  with  sufficient  clearness 1, 
my  own  conviction  that  it  was  with  the  more  conservative 
among  the  recent  critics,  and  not  with  the  more  extreme,  that 
the  victory  would  lie.  Thus  when  I  said,  in  a  sentence  which 
has  been  specially  criticized  (partly  because  its  wording  was 
somewhat  ambiguous),  that  criticism  is  reaching  'results  as 
sure  as  scientific  enquiry,'  what  I  intended  so  to  characterize 
was  not  the  extreme  conclusions  of  Wellhausen,  but  substan- 
tially the  conclusions  shared  in  common  by  Wellhausen  and 
Dillmann,  by  critics  theologically  more  conservative,  like 
Konig  and  Kiehm,  by  Delitzsch  in  his  last  position,  by  the 
French  Catholic  orientalist,  F.  Lenormant,  as  well  as  by  an 
increasing  body  of  English  scholars2.  Nor  is  there  a  single 

1  The  summary  statements  on  pp.  2  See  Ed.  Kiehm,  Einleitung  in  das 

351-2  as  to  the  historical  character  A.  T.  (Halle,  1889),  §§  15-18,  24,  27. 

of  the   Old   Testament  represent,    I  F.^.K6mg,0/enbarung8beffiiffd€8A.T. 

believe,  a  '  conservative'  attitude,  an  (Leipzig,  1882),  t.  n,  pp.  321  if.    Cf. 

attitude    towards    the    history  very  also  Hctuptprobleme  der  Altisr.-Reliyions- 

unlike  that,   for   instance,   of  Well-  gesch.  (Leipzig,  1884).     F.  Delitzsch, 

hausen.  Genesis,  Clark's  trans.  (Edinb.,  i 

the  Tenth  Edition.  xxi 

line  of  what  I  wrote  which  would  be  affected,  so  far  as  I  see, 
even  if  Professor  Margoliouth  were  satisfactorily  to  make  out 
his  case  for  throwing  back  the  period  of  the  'Middle  Hebrew1.' 
As  to  the  grounds  on  which  we  have  been  asked  to  date  the  bulk 


of  the  Psalms  below  the  Captivity,  and  even  in  the  Maccabean 
period,  they  may  appear  indeed  quite  unconvincing ;  but  it 
would  have  been  utterly  beside  my  purpose,  as  it  would  also 
have  been  out  of  my  power,  to  give  them  adequate  discussion2, 
nor  would  it  seem  as  if  even  so  improbably  late  a  date  as 
that  suggested  would  really  affect  their  Messianic  or  spiritual 
character.  Let  us  affirm  then  without  any  hesitation  that 
there  is  a  good  deal  of  arbitrariness  and  extremeness  in 
current  criticism  as  applied  to  the  Old  Testament.  But  surely 
we  should  be  the  victims  of  a  dangerous  delusion  if  we  were  to 
imagine  that  because  there  is  a  good  deal  that  is  unsubstantial 
in  recent  criticism,  therefore  there  is  no  substantial  force  in 
what  really  represents  the  successive  labours  of  many 
generations  of  students.  I  do  not  think  that  we  can  conceal 


i.  19-38.     P.  Lenormant,  Les  Origines,  English  or  German.     For  a  review 

Preface.     I   venture    to   think   that  by  a  very  competent  critic,  see  Prof, 

those  who  want  to  study  the  modern  Noldeke  in  the  Lit.  Centralblatt,  July 

criticism  of  the  Old  Testament  would  12,  1890. 

be  less  likely  to  be  prejudiced  against  2  I  may  say  that  the   motive  for 

it  if  they  were  to  begin  their  study  what  is  said  about  Ps.  ex  on  p.  359 

with  the   assistance   of  Riehm   and  was  simply  the  conviction  that  our 

Konig,  rather  than  of  more  rational-  Lord  in  the  passage  there  in  question 

istic  scholars.     I  ought  to  add  that  cannot  fairly  be  taken  as  giving  in- 

while  the  scholars  mentioned  above  struction   on   a   critical   question   of 

agree  substantially  as  to  the  analysis  authorship,  not  the  difficulty  of  as- 

of  the  Pentateuch,  they  differ  as  to  signing  the  particular  Psalm  to  the 

the  position  assigned  to  the  Priestly  age  of  David.     The  solution  which  I 

Code,  Avhich  Dillmann  and   Riehm  propose,  p.  3 5 9,  as  to  our  Lord's  words 

hold  to   be   prior  to    Deuteronomy,  is  however  only  one  of  several  which 

Wellhausen,    Kb'nig    and    Delitzsch  are  possible  even  for  those  who  agree 

subsequent  to  it.  with  me  in  the  conviction  expressed 

1  Essay  on  the  place  of  Ecctesiasticus  in  above.     See,  for  instance,  Edersheim, 

Semitic  Literature.     Oxford :  Clarendon  Life  and    Times   of  Jesus   the    Messiah 

Press,  1890, pp.  20,  21.    lalludetothis  (London,  1884),  ii.  p.  406,  and  Bp. 

essay  because  it  has  excited  consider-  Thirl  wall  as  quoted  in  Dean  Perowne's 

able  interest,  but  it  has  not  received  Commentary    on    the    Psalms    (London 

favourable  notice  from  critics  either  1871),  ii.  pp.  302  ff. 

xxii  Preface  to 

from  ourselves  that  if  we  are  to  defend  a  purely  conserva- 
tive attitude  in  regard  to  Old  Testament  literature,  we 
shall  require  quite  different  canons  of  evidence  from  those 
which  we  are  able  so  successfully  to  use  in  vindicating  the 
historical  character  of  the  New  Testament :  or  again,  in  vindi- 
cating the  claims  of  the  apostolic  ministry  and  the  sacramental 
system  to  be  part  of  the  original  fabric  of  the  Christian 
Church.  In  other  words,  the  critical  principles  of  historical 
enquiry  which  do  so  amply  justify  us  in  retaining  substan- 
tially the  traditional  position  in  regard  as  well  to  the  New 
Testament  documents  as  to  our  Church  principles,  do  not  carry 
us  to  the  same  point  in  the  field  of  the  Old  Testament.  No 
doubt  there  the  vastness  of  the  field  is  a  permanent  obstacle  to 
uniformly  certain  results.  A  great  deal  must  remain,  and 
probably  for  ever,  more  or  less  an  open  question.  But  this 
necessary  uncertainty,  if  it  imposes  on  critics  an  obligation  of 
caution,  imposes  also  on  us  churchmen  an  obligation  of  reserve 
in  dogmatic  requirement.  We  do  not  wish  to  run  the  risk  of 
making  a  claim  on  men's  minds  for  the  acceptance  of  positions 
for  which  we  have  only  this  to  urge,  that  they  cannot  be  abso- 
lutely disproved. 

2.  The  changed  view  of  the  development  of  Old  Testament 
literature,  such  as  can  be  truly  said  to  be  proposed  for  our 
acceptance  by  modern  critics  with  a  great  deal  of  unanimity,  if 
it  be  granted  for  the  moment  that  it  is  compatible  with  the  real 
inspiration  of  the  books,  involves  no  important  change  in  our 
spiritual  use  of  the  Old  Testament ;  in  the  use  of  it  for  the 
purposes  of  '  faith  and  morals.'  This  latter  use  of  Scripture 
depends  simply  on  our  rightly  interpreting  the  meaning  of  the 
books  as  they  exist. 

There  is  a  great  principle  enunciated  by  S.  Augustine  in 
regard  to  the  Old  Testament  which  requires  to  be  kept 
constantly  in  view.  It  is  that  as  the  Old  Testament  is 
manifested  in  the  New,  so  the  New  Testament  is  latent  in 

the  Tenth  Edition.  xxiii 

the  Old1.  In  order  to  recognize  this  there  is  no  discussion 
necessary  of  the  method  by  which  our  'Old  Testament' 
received  its  present  shape.  The  evidence  of  it  lies  in  the  Old 
Testament  considered  as  a  finished  product.  As  such,  we 
cannot  study  that  '  divine  library  '  without  being  struck  both 
by  its  unity,  so  far  greater  than  belongs  to  any  other 
literature2,  and  by  the  fact  that  like  no  other  literature  it 
looks  forward  to  an  end  not  yet  attained,  a  divine  event  in 
which  is  to  be  its  justification  and  its  interpretation.  The 
Old  Testament  demands  the  New  to  bring  out  its  true  mean- 
ing :  the  New  appeals  back  to  the  Old  to  bear  witness  to  the 
continuity  of  the  divine  purpose  of  which  it  is  the  outcome.  It 
is  from  this  point  of  view  that  we  understand  the  appeal  which, 
in  the  New  Testament,  is  so  constantly  made  to  the  older 
Scriptures.  Whether  they  are  appealed  to,  as  in  the  Sermon 
on  the  Mount,  as  containing  the  record  of  a  moral  education, 
divine  though  imperfect,  which  the  Christ  was  to  complete  3  ; 
or  as  by  St.  Paul,  as  the  record  of  a  preparatory  and  temporary 
discipline  by  means  of  external  enactments  of  God,  calculated 
to  awaken  the  dull  conscience  of  men  to  the  reality  and 
holiness  of  the  divine  will,  and  so  to  make  men  conscious  of 
sin  against  God,  and  ready  to  welcome  the  dispensation  of 
pardon  and  grace 4 ;  or,  as  in  the  Epistle  to  the  Hebrews',  as  a 
system  of  ritual  and  ceremonial  observances,  in  which  were 

1  S.Augustine,  Qucest.  73  in  Exod.  :  ex«']:  it  is  <  from  above '  [from  the  top, 
'  Quamquam  et  in  vetere  [Testamento]  A.V.]   because  it   is   inspired;    it  is 
novum  lateat,  et  in  novo  vetus  pateat.'  '  woven  throughout,'  because  in    its 
Quoted  by  Dr.  Liddon,  The  worth  of  the  whole  force  it  is  from  above.' 

Old  Testament,  p.  28.  3  S.    Matt.    v.    17-48,    cf.   xix.    8: 

2  Cf.    Didymus  in   Psalm,  xxi.    19,  'Moses,   because   of  the  hardness  of 
where  he  interprets  Christ's  '  seamless  your  hearts,'  etc. 

robe,'  of  the  Holy  Scriptures  which  4  After   S.   Paul,    S.  Augustine   is 

they  '  part '  who  accept  one  and  reject  the  great  exponent  of  this  principle 

another.     '  This  robe  of  Jesus  is  also  in  early  days  ;    see  esp.  de  spiritu  et. 

indivisible,  for  it   is  seamless.      Its  littera,  xix.  (34)  :  Lex  ergo  data  est  ut 

unity  is    not    enforced  but   natural  gratia  quaereretur :  gratia  data  est  ut 

rjv  tvuaiv  d\\a  avfjupvij  lex  impleretur. 

xxiv  Preface  to 

shadowed  forth  by  the  inspiring  Spirit *  the  deep  truths  of  the 
still-needed  sacrifice,  and  the  access  to  God  not  yet  won  for 
man ;  or  finally,  as  by  almost  all  the  New  Testament  writers, 
as  a  prophetic  dispensation  in  which  the  Messianic  hope 
found  gradual  expression  in  fuller  and  exacter  lineaments,  and 
produced  an  anticipation  which  Christ  only  could  satisfy  2 : — 
from  any  of  these  points  of  view,  or  from  all  taken  together, 
we  are  concerned  only  with  the  Old  Testament  as  it  finally 
appears,  not  with  the  method  by  which  it  came  into  being. 
It  cannot  be  too  strongly  emphasized  that  when  we  seek  re- 
assurance in  regard  to  the  inspiration  of  those  books  of  the 
Old  Testament,  to  which  our  Lord  and  His  Church  refer  us, 
we  find  it  primarily  in  the  substance  of  the  books  as  they  are 
given  to  us,  not  in  any  considerations  of  the  manner  in  which 
they  came  into  existence  3. 

And  if  this  is  so,  it  needs  to  be  borne  in  mind  that  the  re- 
sponsibility for  bringing  it  home  to  the  consciences  of  men, 
the  responsibility  for  thus  preventing  that  breach  in  religious 
continuity  which  the  change  in  critical  and  literary  concep- 
tions of  the  Old  Testament  might  otherwise  occasion,  lies  in 
a  preeminent  degree  upon  those  of  us  who  are  most  impressed 
with  the  valid  elements  of  the  recent  criticism.  It  belongs  to 


us  to  see  to  it  that,  so  far  as  lies  with  us,  the  Bible  shall  not 
be  less  prized  by  the  generations  that  are  coming,  as  the  divine, 
the  inspired  volume,  than  it  has  been  by  the  generations 

1  See  esp.  Heb.  ix.  8,  '  The  Holy  wards  the  more  we  bestow  our  labour 
Spirit  this  signifying ; '    and  cf.  Dr.  in  reading  or  hearing  the  mysteries 
Westcott  on  this  Epistle,  pp.  233  if.  thereof,  the  more  we  find  that  the 

2  I  would  venture  to  recommend  thing  itself  doth  answer  our  received 
Riehm's    Messianic    Prophecy    (Clark's  opinion  concerning  it.'     Later  again, 
trans.),    as    a   summary  account    of  as  against  '  infidels  or  atheists,'  we 
prophecy  both  reverent  and  critical.  must  l  maintain  the  authority  of  the 

3  Cf.     Hooker's     account    of    our  books    of  God  ...  by   such   kind  of 
grounds  for  believing  that  <  Scripture  proofs  .  .  .  that  no  man  living  shall 
...  is  divine  and  sacred.'     '  By  ex-  be  able  to  deny  it,  without  denying 
perience,'  he  says, '  we  all  know,  that  some  apparent  principle  such  as  all 
the  first  outward  motive  leading  men  men  acknowledge  to  be  true.'     E.  P. 
so  to  esteem  of  the  Scripture  is  the  III.  viii.  14. 

authority  of  God's  Church.  .  .  .  After- 

the  Tenth  Edition,  xxv 

that  are  gone.  It  belongs  to  us  to  attend  to  the  double 
admonition  of  the  De  Imitotione  :  '  Every  scripture  must  be 
read  in  the  same  spirit  in  which  it  was  written  : '  and  '  Do 
not  enquire  who  said  this,  but  pay  heed  to  what  is  said.' 

3.  There  is  one  appeal  which  the  New  Testament  makes  to 
the  Old  which  was  not  alluded  to  above,  as  it  does  not  in  fact 
fall    naturally  under   S.  Augustine's   principle   of  the   New 
Testament  lying  hid  in  the  Old — namely  the  appeal  to  it  as 
to  a  historical  record  of  God's  actual  dealings  with  His  people  : 
a  record  of  things  which  actually  '  happened  unto  them  for  en- 
samples,  and  are  written  for  our  admonition.'    But  this  appeal 
again  would  not  be  invalidated  unless  it  were  shown — not 
merely  that  there  is  an  ideal  element  mixed  with  the  history 
in  the  Old  Testament  record,  but — that  the  element  which  is 
not  mere  narrative  of  events  as  they  happened,  the  element  of 
idealism,  reaches  to  the  point  of  obscuring  the  real  significance 
of  the  facts  and  distorting  their  divine  meaning.   Whereas  the 
truth  is  that  the  ideal  element  in  the  narrative  comes  from 
the  real  divine  meaning  in  the  facts  being  brought  into  em- 
phatic  prominence    rather    than    overlooked;    and  we  may 
depend  upon  it  that  no  results  of  criticism  have  tended  to 
weaken  our  belief  that  the   chroniclers   of  Israel's  history, 
whether  prophetic  or  priestly,  were  inspired  to  see  its  true 
meaning  and  tendency,  and  from  their  different  points  of  view 
to  bring  it  out  in  its  completeness.    And  it  is  important  to 
remember  in  this  connection  that  the  Jewish  idea  of  '  history ' 
was  never  our  modern  critical  idea  of  a  mere  record.     They 
ranked  their  history  from  Joshua  to  the  books  of  Kings  under 
the  head  of  'prophecy,'    and  intimate  to  us  by  this  very 
classification  that  they  see  in  the  historian  one  who  not  only 
records  but  interprets  facts l. 

1  The  Chronicles  and  the  later  his-  Moralists. 

torical  books,  as  is  well  known,  were  The  truth  of  this  paragraph  de- 
included  in  the  third  class  of  Hagio-  pends  upon  (i)  the  character,  (2) 
grapha'  with  the  Psalmists  and  the  extent  of  the  idealism  of  Old 

xxvi  Preface  to 

4.  The  changed  view  of  the  Old  Testament  books  which 
modern  criticism  asks  of  us,  concerns,  then,  not  so  much  their 
contents,  as  the  circumstances  of  their  composition  and  the 
method  by  which  they  reached  their  present  form.  When  we 
pass  to  this  latter  class  of  considerations  we  are  prepared  for 
any  information  which  criticism  or  tradition  can  give  us,  while 
at  the  same  time  our  indestructible  conviction,  fortified  by  the 
strongest  internal  testimony  of  the  books,  that  here  is  the 
Holy  Spirit's  work,  gives  us  an  antecedent  expectation  that 
the  mode  of  composition  in  the  case  of  each  book  will  be  such 
as  God  in  His  condescension  can  have  sanctioned  and  used. 
God,  I  say,  in  His  condescension — because  undoubtedly  the 
whole  Old  Testament  does  represent  a  condescension  of  God 
to  a  low  stage  of  human  development.  Here  then  we  need 
the  recognition  of  a  second  great  principle  which  S.  Augustine 
lays  down,  viz.  that  '  as  wrong  is  done  to  the  Old  Testament 
if  it  be  denied  to  come  from  the  just  and  good  God,  so 
wrong  is  done  to  the  New  if  it  be  put  on  a  level  with  the 
Old  V 

For  all  the  reality  of  its  inspiration  the  Old  Testament  is  on 
a  lower  level  than  the  New.  Thus  it  is  now  almost  univer- 
sally recognised  that  God  in  the  Olc|  Testament  is  seen 
appealing  to  the  human  conscience  at  a  low  stage  of  its  develop- 
ment, tolerating  what  was  not  according  to  His  original  will 
or  His  ultimate  purpose 2,  as  in  the  case  of  divorce,  and  even, 

Testament  facts.     On  this  something  exist  and  really  represent  the  divine 

more  is   said  later  on.     Here  I  am  purpose. 

only    concerned    to    distinguish    an  l  De  GestisPelag.  v.  (15),  'Sicut  veteri 

idealism  which  truly  interprets  facts,  Testamento   si  esse  ex  Deo  bono  et 

even  if  it  throws  their  spiritual  mean-  summo  negetur,  ita  et  novo  fit  injuria 

ing  into  high  relief,  from  a  merely  si    veteri    aequetur.'      S.    Augustine 

imaginative  treatment  which  perverts  does  not  perhaps  carry  out  the  recog- 

and  distorts  them.  ThusiftheChroni-  nition  of  this  principle   as  fully  as 

cler  idealizes,  it  is  by  emphasizing,  some  other  of  the  Fathers :  for  refs. 

beyond  the  point  of  actual  fact,  the  see  pp.  229$. 

priestly  element  in  the  history  which  2  S.  Matt.  xix.  8. 
at   the   same    time  did    both   really 

the   Tenth  Edition.  xxvii 

as  in  the  case  of  Abraham's  sacrifice,  appealing  to  men  to  do 
things  which  in  a  more  fully  developed  state  of  the  con- 
science could  not  be  even  conceived  of  as  commanded  by  God, 
in  order  that  through  their  very  obedience  to  the  appeal  they 
might  be  led  higher  into  the  knowledge  of  what  God  could, 
and  could  not,  enjoin.  How  fully  this  principle  in  God's 
dealings  was  recognised  and  justified  by  the  early  Christian 
authorities  has  been  already  brought  out  in  this  volume1. 

Again,  the  same  method  of  condescending  to  what  was 
not  in  itself  perfect,  but  was  susceptible  of  a  gradual  educa- 
tion, appears  in  the  institutions  of  the  Old  Testament  law  of 
worship.  Modern  enquirers  are  pressing  upon  us  the  fact 
that  the  ritual  law  of  Israel  is  closely  akin  to  the  common 
ritual  customs  of  Semite  races.  '  What  I  may  call  the 
natural  basis  of  Israel's  worship,'  says  Prof.  Robertson  Smith, 
'  was  very  closely  akin  to  that  of  the  neighbouring  cults  V 
The  peculiarity  of  Israel's  religion  lay  in  fact  not  in  the 
ritual  itself,  but  in  the  moral  and  theological  turn  given  to 
the  ritual.  According  to  this  view  God  in  the  law  appears 
as  diverting  to  good  uses,  by  an  act  of  condescension,  ritual 
customs  which  it  would  have  been  premature  to  abolish. 
Such  a  view  of  the  ritual  is  somewhat  strange  to  the  ears  of 
modern  Churchmen,  but  it  was  undoubtedly  the  prevalent 
view  of  the  law  among  the  great  writers  of  Christian 
antiquity.  References  to  illustrate  this  have  been  given 
in  the  eighth  essay  3. 

But  I  may  add  to  the  passages  there  referred  to  another 
of  very  striking  force.  S.  Chrysostom  is  explaining  why 
God  should  have  appealed  to  the  astrological  notions  of  the 
wise  men  and  led  them  by  no  other  leading  than  that  of  a 
star.  It  is  because  '  in  exceeding  condescension  He  calls 

1  See  pp.  329  ff.  added  is  from   S.  Chrysost.  m  Matt. 

2  Religion  of  the  Semites.    Edinburgh,  vi.  3.     The  same  idea  is  discerned  by 
1889,  p.  4.  Bp.   Lightfoot   in    S.  Paul ;    see   on 

3  P-  329>  n°te  2-     The  passage  here  Gal.  iv.  n. 

xxviii  Preface  to 

them  through  what  is  familiar  ...  In  imitation  of  this  Paul 
too  reasons  with  the  Greeks  from  an  altar,  and  adduces  tes- 
timony from  the  poets,  while  he  harangues  the  Jews  with 
circumcision,  and  makes  from  the  sacrifices  a  beginning  of 
instruction  for  those  who  are  living  under  the  law.  For  since 
to  every  one  familiar  things  are  dear,  therefore  both  God 
Himself  and  the  men  who  were  sent  from  God,  with  a  view 
to  the  salvation  of  the  world,  manage  things  on  this  principle. 
Think  it  not  then  unworthy  of  Him  to  have  called  them  by 
a  star ;  for  by  the  same  rule  thou  wilt  find  fault  with  all  the 
Jewish  rites  also — both  the  sacrifices  and  the  purifications 
and  the  new  moons,  and  the  ark,  and  the  temple  itself.  For 
all  these  things  had  their  origin  from  Gentile  grossness.  Yet 
God,  on  account  of  the  salvation  of  those  in  error,  endured  to 
be  worshipped  by  means  of  the  very  things  through  which  those 
outside  were  worshipping  demons,  only  giving  them  a  slight 
alteration,  that  little  by  little  he  might  draw  them  away 
from  their  customs  and  lead  them  up  to  the  high  philosophy.' 
NQW  if  we  recognize  that  God  in  the  Old  Testament  can 
condescend  for  the  purposes  of  His  revelation  to  a  low  stage  of 
conscience,  and  a  low  stage  of  worship,  what  possible  ground 
have  we  for  denying  that  He  can  use  for  purposes  of  His 
inspiration  literary  methods  also  which  belong  to  a  rude  and 
undeveloped  state  of  intelligence  ?  If  He  can  '  inspire  '  with 
true  teaching  the  native  Semite  customs  of  ritual,  why  can 
He  not  do  the  same  with  their  traditions  of  old  time  ?  How 
can  we  reasonably  deny  that  the  earlier  portions  of  Genesis 
may  contain  the  simple  record  of  primitive  prehistoric  tra- 
dition of  the  Semites1,  moulded  and  used  by  the  Holy  Spirit,  as 

1  I  use  the  word  '  myth '  for  those  is    used.      On    Strauss's    application 

primitive   stories    on  p.    356.      The  of  the   myth    theory  to   the   Gospel 

legitimacy  of  this   use  may  be  dis-  narratives,  I  should  quite  assent  to 

puted,  see  e.  g.  Riehm,  Einleitung,  p.  the  remarks  of  Dr.  Mill,  Mythical  In- 

542.      But   I   endeavour    to   explain  tcrpretation  of  the   Gospels  (Cambridge, 

exactly  the  sense  in  which  the  word  1861),  pp.  97,  98. 

the   Tenth  Edition.  xxix 

on  all  showing  the  record  manifestly  has  been  moulded  and 
used,  to  convey  the  fundamental  principles  of  all  true  religion  ? 
Or  again,  granted  that,  on  the  'dramatic'  hypothesis,  Deu- 
teronomy written  not  by  Moses,  but  in  Moses'  name,  to  in- 
corporate the  Mosaic  tradition,  represents  a  literary  method 
greatly  inferior,  in  sense  of  exactitude,  to  the  method  of  per- 
sonal testimony  as  we  have  it  in  S.  John1,  or  of  careful  in- 
vestigation and  use  of  original  testimony,  as  we  have  it  in 
S.  Luke  2 ;  granted  this — how  can  we,  in  view  of  the  manifest 
facts  of  God's  condescension,  find  ourselves  in  a  position  to 
deny  that  He  can  have  used  such  a  method  as  a  vehicle  of 
His  inspiration  3  ?  There  is,  it  must  be  emphasized,  no  critical 
reason  why  we  should  assign  the  composition  of  any  book  of 
the  Old  Testament  to  the  motive  of  fraud.  No  doubt  hostile 
critics  have  sometimes  suggested,  for  example,  that  the  '  dis- 
covery '  of  the  book  of  the  law  in  the  Temple  in  the  days  of 
Josiah  was  a  'got  up'  proceeding,  the  book  having  really 
been  written  and  hidden  at  the  very  time  in  order  to  be 
'  discovered ' ;  but  there  is  no  positive  evidence  at  all  to  sup- 
port such  a  view,  while  all  the  evidence  is  satisfied  by  the 
hypothesis  that  an  earlier  prophet,  some  hundred  years  pre- 
viously4, working  upon  an  actual  and  possibly  written  tra- 
dition of  Moses'  last  speech,  had  cast  this  tradition  into  the 
dramatic  form  and  promulgated,  as  from  Moses'  lips,  the  law 
which  he  knew  to  represent  ultimately  Moses'  authority  or 
the  authority  of  God  in  Moses.  That  such  a  method  should 
have  been  adopted  surprises  us  surely  no  more  than  that 

1  S.  John  i.  14,  xix.  35,  xxi.  24  ;  i  on  S.  Jude's  Epistle  in  the  Introduc- 
S.  John  i.  1-3.  tion  to  the  New  Testament. 

2  S.  Luke  i.  1-4.  4  Cf.   Kiehm,  Einleitung,  i.  p.  246 : 

3  I  would  call  attention  in  this  con-  '  Das  Gesetzbuch  kann  nicht  erst  uiiter 
nection  to  Dr.  Salmon's  remarks  on  Josia    geschrieben   sein,    sondern    es 
S.  Jude's  use,  even  in  the  New  Tes-  muss  spiitestens  zur  Zeit  des  Hiskia 
tarnent  canon,  of  the  traditions  con-  entstanden    sein,    und    zwar    bevor 
tained  in  the  Assumption  of  Moses,  dieser  Konig  seine  Reformation  ganz 
and   his    quotation   of  the   book  of  durchgefiihrt  hatte.' 

Enoch  :  see  at  the  end  of  his  lecture 

xxx  Preface  to 

Hosea  should  have  been  led  to  use  such  extraordinary  means, 
as  he  seems  in  fact  to  have  been  enjoined  to  use,  of  revealing 
God's  mind  of  love  towards  His  people.  It  involves  no  inten- 
tion to  deceive,  and  the  discovery  of  this  '  book  of  the  law,' 
lost  in  the  careless  period  which  intervened,  was  a  genuine 
discovery  unattended  by  any  element  of  fraud. 

Once  again,  if  the  book  of  Chronicles  contains  not  pure 
history  but  the  priestly  view  of  the  history,  granted  that 
this  priestly  point  of  view  was  morally  part  of  the  divinely 
intended  education  of  the  chosen  people,  even  though  its 
intellectual  method  was  as  imperfect  as  ordinarily  is  the  case 
with  the  treatment  of  traditions  in  '  schools '  or  religious 
orders,  in  nations  or  churches  or  families,  is  there  any  a  priori 
reason  why  God,  who  used  so  much  that  was  imperfect,  should 
not  have  inspired  the  record  of  this  tradition  ?  Here  again 
we  must  emphasize  that  all  that  criticism  requires  of  us  is-  to 
recognise  in  the  book  of  Chronicles  the  record  of  the  history 
as  it  became  coloured  in  the  priestly  schools  ;  there  is  nothing 
here  of  a  morally  unworthy  sort  from  the  point  of  view  of 
the  contemporary  conscience,  but  only  the  same  features  as 
are  noticeable  in  the  record  of  tradition  all  the  world  over  *. 
Fraudulent  dealing,  forgery  in  literature,  always  involves  the 
conscious  and  deliberate  use  of  methods  calculated  to  impose 
on  others,  methods  other  than  those  sanctioned  by  the  literary 
conscience  of  the  time  2. 

No  doubt  a  particular  writer,  like  Wellhausen,  may  make  a 
bias  hostile  to  the  supernatural  apparent  in  his  use  of  the 

1  A  common  feature  in  all  tradi-  tradition  what  is  authoritative  tends 
tions  is  what  Wellhausen  describes  to  be  represented  as  what  always  has 
as  the  main  characteristic  of  the  been  authoritative. 
Chronicler,  '  the  timeless  manner  of  2  Thus  the  Pseudo-Isidorian  De- 
looking  at  things  which  is  natural  to  cretals  are  properly  called  forgeries  ; 
him.'  He  '  figures  the  old  Hebrew  and  the  evidence  of  this  would  lie  in 
people  as  in  exact  conformity  with  the  fact  that  the  author  could  not 
the  pattern  of  the  later  Jewish  com-  have  afforded  to  disclose  the  method 
munity.'  Proleg.  to  Hist,  of  Israel  and  circumstances  of  their  produc- 
(Edinburgh,  1885),  PP-  190-193.  In  tion. 

the   Tenth  Edition.  xxxi 

critical  method,  and  may  give  in  consequence  an  antitheo- 
logical  turn  to  his  reconstruction  of  history ;  just  as  many  a 
scientific  writer  has  done  with  scientific  facts  and  scientific 
method.  In  view  of  this  we  must  '  try  the  spirits '  and  not 
attribute  too  much  force  to  the  point  of  view  of  a  particular 
individual.  But  this  will  not  be  at  all  the  same  thing  as 
rejecting  the  modem  method  of  criticism  or  repudiating  those 
results  which  are  certainly  accepted  by  many  critics  who  are 
as  far  as  possible  from  rejecting  the  supernatural 1. 

5.  No  serious  attempt  has,  I  think,  been  made  to  show  that 
the  view  of  the  development  of  the  Old  Testament  literature 
which  the  modern  critical  schools,  with  great  unanimity, 
demand  of  us,  is  contrary  to  any  determination  of  Church 
authority.  By  this  it  is  not  meant  that  the  theology  of  the 
Church  suggests  this  view:  it  is  not  the  function  of  the 
Church  to  advance  literary  knowledge,  except  indirectly ; 
and  thus  the  Church  has  not  had  the  power  to  anticipate 
the  critical,  any  more  than  it  had  to  anticipate  the  scientific 
movement.  The  advance  of  knowledge  comes  in  all  depart- 
ments through  the  natural  processes  of  intellectual  enquiry.  It 
is  only  now,  in  fact,  that  the  critical  problem  is  before  the 
Church ;  but  now  that  it  is  before  the  Church  it  does  not  seem 
that  the  Church  ought  to  have  any  more  difficulty  in  wel- 
coming it  and  assimilating  it,  than  it  has  had  in  welcoming 
and  assimilating  the  legitimate  claims  of  science. 

With  reference  to  the  bearing  of  Church  authority  on  the 
present  discussion,  there  are  three  points  which  I  should  wish 
to  urge.  First,  that  the  undivided  Church  never  took  action 

1  Thus  Riehm,    whose  position   is   '  the  Pentateuch  makes.     Anyone  who 

described  above  on  p.  xx,  has  a  noble  reads  it,  so  as  to  allow  its  contents 

section   (Einleit.    pp.    349  ff.)    on   the  to  work  upon  his  spirit,  must  receive 

Pentateuch  considered  as  the  record  the  impression  that  a  consciousness 

.of  a  Revelation.   The  convict  ion  of  the  of  God,    such  as   is  here  expressed, 

revelation  of  God  is  ascribed  in  part  cannot  be   derived   from    flesh   and 

to  '  the  immediate  impression  which  blood.' 

LIBRARY  i         'Y'S  COLLEGE 

xxxii  Preface  to 

on  the  matter,  in  spite  of  an  extravagant  tendency  to  alle- 
gorism  in  Origen  and  those  who  were  influenced  by  him. 

Secondly,  that  as  a  result  of  this  the  patristic  theology 
leaves  a  wide  opening  at  least  for  what  we  may  call  the 
modern  way  of  regarding  the  opening  chapters  of  Genesis. 
Thus  a  Latin  writer,  of  the  fifth  or  sixth  century,  who  gives 
an  interesting  summary  of  the  Catholic  faith,  and  is  clearly 
nothing  else  but  a  recorder  of  accepted  beliefs,  after  speaking 
of  the  origin  and  fall  of  man  and  woman,  continues  thus: 
'These  things  are  known  through  God's  revelation  to  His 
servant  Moses,  whom  He  willed  to  be  aware  of  the  state  and 
origin  of  man,  as  the  books  which  he  produced  testify.  For  all 
the  divine  authority  (i.  e.  the  scriptural  revelation)  appears  to 
exist  under  such  a  mode  as  is  either  the  mode  of  history 
which  narrates  only  what  happened,  or  the  mode  of  allegory 
in  such  sense  that  it  cannot  represent  the  course  of  history, 
or  a  mode  made  up  of  these  two  so  as  to  remain  both  his- 
torical and  allegorical1.'  A  great  deal  more  in  the  same 
sense  as  this  might  be  produced. 

Thirdly,  it  must  be  urged  that  since  the  division  of  Chris- 
tendom no  part  of  the  Church  appears  really  to  have  tightened 
the  bond  of  dogmatic  obligation.  Our  own  formularies  are  of 
course  markedly  free  from  definition  on  the  subject,  and  the 
refusal  of  the  Eoman  Church  to  define  the  scope  of  inspira- 
tion, beyond  the  region  of  faith  and  morals,  has  been  remark- 

6.  But  does  the  authority  of  our  Lord  bind  us  to  repudiate, 
in  loyalty  to  Him,  the  modern  views  of  the  origin  of  the  Old 
Testament  books?  On  this  subject  I  wish  to  express  my 

1  De  fide  Catholica.  The  treatise  is  of  Cassiodorus,  London,  1886,  pp.  80-1. 
ascribed  to  Boethius :  see  Boetii,  2  See  the  account  in  Manning's 

Opuscida  Sacra  (Teubner  Series),  p.  178.  Temporal    Mission    of    the    Holy    Ghost, 

On  the  fresh  evidence  of  the  author-  London,    1877,  pp.   156-160,   and  p. 

ship  of  those  treatises  supplied  by  the  166.   Cf.  also  Newman's  words  below, 

Anecdoton  Holderi,  see  Hodgkin's  Letters  p.  350. 

the  Tenth  Edition.  xxxiii 

sincere  regret  that  I  should  have  written  so  briefly  in  my  essay 
as  to  lay  myself  open  to  be  misunderstood  to   suggest  our 
Lord's  fallibility  as  a  teacher.     I  trust  that  the  passage,  as  it 
has  stood  since  the  fourth  edition 1,  will  be  at  least  recognised 
as  plain  in  its  meaning  and  theologically  innocent.     I  must 
ask  leave  to  defer  to  another  occasion  the  fuller  discussion  of 
this  important  subject  in  connection  with  the  doctrine  of  the 
Person  of  Christ.     Meanwhile  I  would  suggest  that  the  longer 
one  thinks  of  it  the  more  apparent  it  will  become  that  any 
hypothesis  as  to  the  origin  of  any  one  book  of  the  Old  Testa- 
ment, which  is  consistent  with  a  belief  in  its  inspiration,must  be 
consistent  also  with  our  Lord  having  given  it  His  authorisation. 
If  His  Spirit  could  inspire  it,  He,  in  that  Spirit,  could  give  it 
His  recognition — His  recognition,  that  is  to  say,  in  regard  to 
its  spiritual  function  and  character.     Thus  as  we  scan  care- 
fully our  Lord's  use   of  the  Old  Testament  books,  we  are 
surely  struck  with  the  fact  that  nothing  2  in  His  use  of  them 
depends  on  questions  of  authorship  or  date ;   He  appeals  to 
them  in  that  spiritual  aspect  which  abides  through  all  changes 
of  literary  theory — their  testimony  to  the  Christ :   '  Search 
the  Scriptures  .  .  .  they  are  they  which  testify  of  Me/     He 
would  thus  lead  men  to  ask  about  each  book  of  the  Old 
Testament   simply   the   question, — What   is   the   element   of 
teaching   preparatory  to   the  Incarnation,  what  is   the   tes- 
timony to  Christ,  which  it  supplies  ?     I  do  not  see  how  with 
due  regard  to  the  self-limitation  which  all  use  of  human  forms 


of  thought  and  speech  must  on  all  showing  have  involved  to 

1  PP-  359~6o.  lead  the  Pharisees  to  examine  their 

2  Nothing — except,  on  the  custom-  own  principles.     Unless  it  be  so  in- 
ary  interpretation,  His  reference  to  terpreted  it  does  seem  to  depend,  as 
Psalm  ex.     This   does   seem  to   lay  an  argument,  on  personal  authorship, 
stress  on  David's  authorship,  unless  because  unless  it  be  by  David,  it  seems 
it  be  regarded,  as  it  certainly  seems  very  difficult  to  suppose  it  written  in 
to  me  fair  to  regard  it,  as  a  question,  David's  person.     It  would  naturally 
rather  than  as  positive  instruction  at  be    a    Psalm  in  which  the    King    is 
all — a  question  simply  calculated  to  addressed. 

xxxiv  Preface  to 

the  Eternal  Son,  it  can  be  a  difficulty  in  the  way  of  accepting 
the  modern  hypothesis,  that  our  Lord  referred  to  the  inspired 
books  under  the  only  name  by  which  His  reference  would  have 
been  intelligible  to  His  hearers.  Unless  He  had  violated  the 
whole  principle  of  the  Incarnation,  by  anticipating  the  slow 
development  of  natural  knowledge,  He  must  have  spoken  of 
the  Deuteronornist  as  'Moses1,'  as  naturally  as  He  spoke  of 
the  sun  'rising.'  Nor  does  there  seem  in  fact  any  greater- 
difficulty  in  His  speaking  of  one  who  wrote  '  in  the  spirit  and 
power '  of  Moses  as  Moses,  than  in  His  speaking  of  one  who, 
according  to  the  prophecy,  came  '  in  the  spirit  and  power  of 
Elias '  as  himself,  Elias.  '  If  ye  will  receive  it,  this  is  Elias.' 
'  Elias  is  already  come  V 

Once  more :  if  the  Holy  Spirit  could  use  the  tradition  of 
the  flood  to  teach  men  about  divine  judgments,  then  our  Lord 
in  the  same  Spirit  can  refer  to  the  flood,  for  the  same 
purpose.  It  has  however  been  recently  denied  that  this 
can  be  so,  unless  the  tradition  accurately  represents  history. 
'  I  venture  to  ask,'  Professor  Huxley  writes3,  '  what  sort  of 
value  as  an  illustration  of  God's  method  of  dealing  with  sin 
has  an  account  of  an  event  that  never  happened  1 '  I  should 
like  to  meet  this  question  by  asking  another.  Has  the  story 
of  the  rich  man  and  Lazarus  any  value  as  an  illustration  of 
God's  method  of  dealing  with  men1?  Undoubtedly  it  has. 
Now  what  sort  of  narrative  is  this  ?  Not  a  narrative  of 
events  that  actually  happened,  in  the  sense  that  there  was  a 
particular  beggar  to  whom  our  Lord  was  referring.  The 
narrative  is  a  representative  narrative  4,  a  narrative  of  what  is 

1  S.  John  v.  46-47.  with  a  single  point. 

2  S.  Luke  i.  17;   S.  Matt.  xi.    14  ;  *  The   proper  name    'Lazarus'   is 
xvii.  1 2.  presumably  used  because  of  its  mean- 

3  Nineteenth  Century,  July,  1890,  p.  20.  ing.    It  should  be  noticed  that  the 
The  bulk  of  his  argument  is  directed  story  is  not  a  parable  proper  like  that 
against     a    position    different    from  of  the  Sower  or  the  Prodigal  Son. 
mine.     Here   I   am   only  concerned 

the   Tenth  Edition.  xxxv 

constantly  occurring  under  the  form  of  a  particular  typical 
incident.  Now  the  narrative  of  the  flood  belongs  to  a  quite 
different  class  of  literature,  inasmuch  as  it  is  not  due  to  any 
deliberate  action  of  imagination ;  but  it  resembles  our  Lord's 
story  at  least  in  being  representative.  It  is  no  doubt  based 
on  fact.  The  traditions  of  the  flood  in  all  races  must  run 
back  to  a  real  occurrence.  But  the  actual  occurrence  cannot 
be  exactly  estimated.  What  we  have  in  Genesis  is  a  tradi- 
tion used  as  a  vehicle  for  spiritual  teaching.  As  the  story 
is  told  it  becomes,  like  that  of  Dives  and  Lazarus,  a  typical 
narrative  of  what  is  again  and  again  happening.  Again  and 
again,  as  in  the  destruction  of  Jerusalem,  or  in  the  French 
Revolution,  God's  judgments  come  on  men  for  their  sin : 
again  and  again  teachers  of  righteousness  are  sent  to  warn 
of  coming  judgment  and  are  ridiculed  by  a  world  which 
goes  on  buying  and  selling,  marrying  and  giving  in  marriage, 
till  the  flood  of  God's  judgment  breaks  out  and  overwhelms 
them.  Again  and  again,  through  these  great  judgments  there 
emerges  a  remnant,  a  faithful  stock,  to  be  the  fountain  head 
of  a  new  and  fresh  development.  The  narrative  of  the  flood 
is  a  representative  narrative,  and  our  Lord,  who  used  the 
story  of  Dives  and  Lazarus,  can  use  this  too J. 


Professor  Huxley's  article  alluded  to  just  now  is-  a  somewhat 
melancholy  example  of  a  mode  of  reasoning  which  one  had 
hoped  had  vanished  from  '  educated  circles '  for  ever — that 
namely  which  regards  Christianity  as  a  '  religion  of  a  book  ' 

1  It  may  be  remarked  that  to  regard  there  is  every  reason  why  '  the  Gospel 

'  the  flood '   as    a    representative   or  should  have  been  preached  to  those 

typical  expression  of  a  whole  class  of  who    died  '     under    God's    physical 

divine  judgments,  helps  us  in  inter-  judgments   of  old   times,    supposing 

preting  S.  Peter's  use  of  it  in  i  Peter  these,  as  we  must  suppose  them,  not  to 

iii.  19-20.     There  is  no  reason  for  an  represent  God's  final  moral  judgment 

exceptional  treatment  of  those  who  on  individuals  :  see  I  Peter  iv.  6. 
perished  in  one  particular  flood,  but 

C   2 

xxxvi  Preface  to 

in  such  sense  that  it  is  supposed  to  propose  for  men's  accept- 
ance a  volume  to  be  received  in  all  its  parts  as  on  the  same 
level,  and  in  the  same  sense,  Divine.  On  the  contrary, 
Christianity  is  a  religion  of  a  Person.  It  propounds  for  our 
acceptance  Jesus  Christ,  as  the  revealer  of  the  Father.  The 
test  question  of  the  Church  to  her  catechumens  has  never 
been:  '  Dost  thou  believe  the  Bible1?'  but  'Dost  thou  believe 
that  Jesus  Christ  is  the  Son  of  God  V  If  we  do  believe  that, 
then  we  shall  further  believe  in  the  Bible :  in  the  Old 
Testament  as  recording  how  God  prepared  the  way  for 
Christ :  in  the  New  Testament  as  recording  how  Christ  lived 
and  taught,  and  containing  the  witness  borne  to  Him  by 
His  earthly  friends  and  ministers.  The  Bible  thus  '  ought 
to  be  viewed  as  not  a  revelation  itself,  but  a  record  of  the 
proclaiming  and  receiving  of  a  revelation,  by  a  body  which 
is  still  existent,  and  which  propounds  the  revelation  to  us, 
namely  the  body  of  Christians  commonly  called  the  Church  V 
The  Bible  is  the  record  of  the  proclamation  of  the  revelation, 
not  the  revelation  itself.  The  revelation  is  in  the  Person  of 
Christ,  and  the  whole  stress  therefore  of  evidential  enquiry 
should  be  laid  upon  the  central  question  whether  the  Divine 
claim  made  for  Jesus  Christ  by  the  Church  is  historically 
justified.  The  whole  evidential  battle  of  Christianity  must 
thus  be  fought  out  on  the  field  of  the  New  Testament,  not  of 
the  Old.  If  Christ  be  God,  the  Son  of  God,  incarnate,  as 
the  Creeds  assert,  Christianity  is  true.  No  one  in  that  case 
will  find  any  permanent  difficulty  in  seeing  that  in  a  most 
real  sense  the  Bible,  containing  both  Old  and  New  Testaments, 
is  an  '  inspired  volume.' 

Now  faith  in  the  Godhead  of  our  Lord  is  very  far  from  being 

1  These  words  are  Bishop  Steere's  :  It  is  (i)  a  criterion,  not  a  teacher  ; 

see    the    Memoir    of    him    by   R.   M.  (2)  a  record  of  the  proclamation  of 

Heanley,  London,  1888,  p.  404.     He  the    revelation,    not    the    revelation 

admirably     characterizes     the     true  itself, 
function  of  the  Bible  in  the  Church. 

the  Tenth  Edition.  xxxvii 

a  mere  matter  of  '  evidences.'  On  this  enough  is  said  by 
more  than  one  writer  in  this  volume 1.  But  so  far  as  '  historical 
evidences'  go,  we  have  them  in  our  generation  in  quite  fresh 
force  and  power.  For  our  New  Testament  documents  have 
passed  through  a  critical  sifting  and  analysis  of  the  most 
trenchant  and  thorough  sort  in  the  fifty  years  that  lie  behind 
us.  From  such  sifting  we  are  learning  much  about  the 
process  through  which  they  took  their  present  shape.  But  in 
all  that  is  material  we  feel  that  this  critical  investigation  has 
only  reassured  us  in  asserting  the  historical  truth  of  the 
records  on  which  our  Christian  faith  rests.  This  reassurance 
has  been  both  as  to  the  substance,  and  as  to  the  quality  of  the 
original  apostolic  testimony  to  Christ.  As  to  its  substance, 
because  the  critical  investigation  justifies  us  in  the  confident 
assertion — more  confident  as  the  investigation  has  been  more 
thorough  than  ever  before — that  the  Christ  of  our  four  Gospels, 
the  Christ  with  His  Divine  claim  and  miraculous  life-giving 
power,  the  Christ  raised  from  the  dead  the  third  day  and 
glorified  at  God's  right  hand,  the  Christ  who  is  the  Son  of 
God  incarnate,  is  the  original  Jesus  of  Nazareth,  as  they  beheld 
Him  and  bore  witness  who  had  been  educated  in  closest  inter- 
course with  Him.  We  are  reassured  also  as  to  the  quality  of 
the  apostolic  testimony.  In  some  ages  testimony  has  been 
careless  —  so  careless,  so  clouded  with  superstition  and 
credulity,  as  to  be  practically  valueless.  But  in  the  apostles 
we  have  men  who  knew  thoroughly  the  value  of  testimony 
and  what  depended  upon  it,  who  bore  witness  to  what  they 
had  seen,  and  in  all  cases,  save  in  the  exceptional  case  of 
S.  Paul,  to  what  they  had  seen  over  a  prolonged  period  of 
years ;  whose  conviction  about  Christ  had  been  gradually 
formed  in  spite  of  much  '  slowness  of  heart,'  and  even  persistent 
'unbelief  ;  formed  also  in  the  face  of  Sadducean  scepticism  and 
in  the  consciousness  of  what  would  be  said  against  them  ; 
1  See  pp.  29  S.,  229  ff.,  337  ff. 

xxxviii  Preface  to 

formed  into  such  irresistible  strength  and  unanimity  by  the 
solid  impress  of  facts  that  nothing  could  shake  it,  either  in  the 
individual  or  in  the  body.  Such  testimony  does  all  for  us 
that  testimony  can  do  in  such  a  case.  It  supports  externally 
and  justifies  a  traditional  faith,  which  is  commended  to  us  at 
the  same  time  internally  by  its  self-evidencing  power.  And 
with  that  faith  as  the  strength  of  our  life  we  can  await  with 
confidence  the  issue  of  minor  controversies. 

It  may  be  hoped  that  the  discussion  which  this  book  has 
raised  may  do  good  in  two  ways. 

It  may  enable  people  to  put  the  Bible  into  its  right  place 
in  the  fabric  of  their  Christian  belief.  It  may  help  to  make 
it  plain  that  in  the  full  sense  the  Christian's  faith  is  faith 
only  in  a  Person,  and  that  Person  Jesus  Christ :  that  to  justify 
this  faith  he  needs  from  the  Scriptures  only  the  witness  of 
some  New  Testament  documents,  considered  as  containing 
history :  while  his  belief  in  the  Bible  as  inspired  is,  speak- 
ing logically,  subsequent  to  his  belief  in  Christ,  and  even, 
when  we  include  the  New  Testament,  subsequent  to  his 
belief  in  the  Church,  as  the  Body  of  Christ,  rather  than 
prior  to  it 1. 

There  is  also  another  good  result  to  which  we  may  hope  to 
see  the  present  controversy  minister — the  drawing  of  a  clear 
line  in  regard  to  development  between  the  Old  Testament 
and  the  New.  For  all  modern  criticism  goes  to  emphasize 
the  gradualness  of  the  process  through  which,  under  the 
Old  Covenant,  God  prepared  the  way  for  Christ.  Now 
all  that  can  be  brought  to  light  in  this  sense,  the  Church 
can  await  with  indifference  from  a  theological  point  of  view, 
because  it  is  of  the  essence  of  the  Old  Testament  to  be 

1  Cp.  pp.  338-341,  where  this  is  ex-  Christ,  before  they  take  any  heed  of 

plained.  The  '  logical '  order  of  belief  the  Church.     But  to  feel  the  power 

is  often  no  doubt  not  the  order  of  of  inspiration    is   a    different   thing 

experience.      The    Bible    can    draw  from   having  reasoned   grounds    for 

men  to  itself,  and  through  itself  to  calling  certain  books  inspired. 

the   Tenth  Edition.  xxxix 

the  record  of  a  gradual  self-disclosure  of  God  continuous  and 
progressive  till  the  incarnation  of  Jesus  Christ.  It  is, 
on  the  other  hand,  of  the  essence  of  the  New  Testament 
revelation  that,  as  given  in  Christ  and  proclaimed  by  His 
apostles,  it  is,  as  far  as  this  world  is  concerned,  in  its 
substance,  final  and  adequate  for  all  ages.  It  is  this,  because 
of  its  essential  nature.  If  Christ  is  '  the  Word  made  flesh/ 
the  '  Son  of  God  made  Son  of  Man,'  then  finality  essentially 
belongs  to  this  disclosure  of  Godhead  and  this  exhibition  of 
manhood.  '  He  that  hath  seen  Him  hath  seen  the  Father,' 
and  he  that  hath  seen  Him  hath  seen  perfect  man,  hath  seen 
our  manhood  in  its  closest  conceivable  relation  to  God,  at 
the  goal  of  all  possible  spiritual  and  moral  development. 
All  our  growth  henceforth  can  only  be  a  growth  into  '  the 
measure  of  the  stature  of  His  fulness' — a  growth  into  the 
understanding  and  possession  of  Him  who  was  once  mani- 
fested. Finality  is  of  the  essence  of  the  New  Covenant,  as 
gradual  communication  of  truth  was  of  the  Old. 

If  these  two  results  are  obtained,  we  shall  not  be  liable  any 
more  to  be  asked  '  where  we  are  going  to  stop '  in  admitting 
historical  uncertainty.  '  If  you  admit  so  much  uncertainty 
in  the  Old  Testament,  why  do  you  not  admit  the  same  in  the 
New  ? '  We  shall  not  be  liable  to  be  asked  this  question,  be- 
cause it  will  be  apparent  that  the  starting-point  as  of  enquiry, 
so  of  security,  lies  in  the  New  Testament  and  then  proceeds 
to  extend  itself  to  the  Old.  For  us,  at  least,  the  Old  Testa- 
ment depends  upon  the  New,  not  the  New  upon  the  Old'. 

Nor  shall  we  be  liable  any  more  to  be  asked,  '  Why,  if  you 
admit  so  much  development  in  actual  substance  in  the  truth 
revealed  under  the  Old  Covenant,  cannot  you  admit  a  similar 
augmentation  under  the  New1?'  This  question  will  be  pre- 
vented, because  it  will  be  apparent  that  the  essential  condi- 
tions are  different  in  the  two  cases.  Progress  in  Christianity 
is  always  reversion  to  an  original  and  perfect  type,  not 


xl  Preface  to  the  Tenth  Edition. 

addition  to  it :  it  is  progress  only  in  the  understanding  of  the 
Christ.  '  Regnum  tuum,  Domine,  regmim  omnium  saeculorum  ; 
et  dominatio  tua  in  omni  generatione  et  generationem.' 

C.  G. 


July,  1890. 

The  chief  changes  of  any  importance  in  this  edition  are  (i)  the  addition 
of  a  note  at  the  end  of  the  first  essay ;  (2)  the  alteration  of  a  few  sentences 
on  pp.  289,  296-7  of  Essay  VII ;  (3)  the  alteration  of  note  2  on  p.  345  and 
note  i  on  p.  346  in  Essay  VIII  ;  (4)  the  expansion  on  p.  357,  §  6  of  the 
opening  sentences ;  (5)  the  addition  of  an  appendix  on  The  Christian  Doctrine 
of  Sin. 




I.  Faith ;   its  situation ;   its  behaviour ;    challenged  by  novel 

experiences;  alarmed  at  its  own  perplexity        .        .        .        3-5 

Yet  why  alarmed  ? 5 

Perplexity  consistent  with  faith,  when  faith  is  stripped  of  its 
habitual  corroborations  from  without :  and  summoned  to 

submit  itself  to  internal  observation 5~8 

For  faith  is  an  elemental  act  of  personal  self:  and,  therefore, 
like  all  such  acts,  e.  g.  of  thought ;  will ;  love  ;  is,  neces- 
sarily, incapable  of  offering  itself  for  scientific  examina- 
tion   8-1 1 

II.  What  is  faith  ? 11-12 

The  motion  in  us  of  our  sonship  in  the  Father ;  the  conscious 

recognition,   and  realization,   of  our  inherent   filial   ad- 
hesion to  God       13-1$ 

This  intimacy  of  relationship  is  capable  of  indefinite  growth, 

of '  supernatural '  development 15 

The  history  of  faith  is  the  gradual  discovery  of  this  increas- 
ing intimacy  16-18 

The  demand  for  faith  is  (a)  universal,  for  all  are  sons ; 
(b)  urgent,  as  appealing  to  a  vital  fact ;  (e)  tolerant,  as 

reposing  on  existent  fact 18-21 

III.  Faith,  an  act  of  basal  personality,  at  the  root  of  all  out- 
flowing activities ;  is  present,  as  animating  force,  within 
all  natural  faculties.  When  summoned  out,  into  positive 
or  direct  action  on  its  own  account  =  Religion,  i.  e.  the 
emergence,  into  open  manifestation,  of  Fatherhood  and 
sonship,  which  lie  hidden  within  all  secular  life  .  .  21-28 

Faith,  an  energy  of  basal  self,  using,  as  instruments  and 
material,  the  sum  of  faculties;  therefore,  each  faculty, 
separately,  can  give  but  a  partial  vindication  of  an  integral 
act  of  faith  .  28-29 

xlii  Synopsis  of  Contents. 


This  applies  to  Reason ;  compare  its  relation  to  acts  of 
affection,  imagination,  chivalry ;  all  such  acts  are  acts 
of  Venture,  using  evidence  of  reason  in  order  to  go  beyond 
evidence 30-34 

So  faith  makes  use  of  all  knowledge,  but  is,  itself,  its  own 
motive.  It  uses,  as  its  instrument,  every  stage  of  science  ; 
but  is  pledged  to  no  one  particular  stage  ....  34-38 
IV.  Faith,  simple  adhesion  of  soul  to  God;  yet,  once  begun,  it 
has  a  history  of  its  own ;  long,  complicated,  recorded  in 
Bible,  stored  up  in  Creeds 38-41 

This  involves  difficulties,  intricacies,  efforts  ;  all  this,  the 
necessary  consequence  of  our  being  born  in  the  'last 
days' 41^45 

Yet  to  the  end,  faith  remains  an  act  of  personal  and  spiritual 

adhesion 45-46 

V.  Faith,  not  only  covers  a  long  past,  but  anticipates  the  future ; 
it  pledges  itself  ahead,  e.  g.  in  the  case  of  '  ordination  vows.' 
Such  pledges  justified,  because  the  act  of  faith  is  personal ; 
and  the  object  of  faith  is  final,  i.e.  'Christ,  the  same 
yesterday,  to-day,  and  for  ever' 46-54 


I.  Object  of  the  essay  and  attitude  assumed       ....     57-59 

II.  A  broad  contrast  between  the  God  of  Philosophy  and  the 

God  of  religion     .........     59-60 

Attempts  to   get   rid  of  the   opposition  (i)  by  division   of 

territory  ;  (2)  by  confusion  of  terms 60-63 

III.  Religion  demands  that  God  shall  be  Personal,  and  stand  in  a 

moral  relationship  with  man        ......     63-65 

IV.  Growth    and    purification    of   the   religious   conception  of 

God 65-68 

V.  Religion  and  Morals.  Collision  between  the  two  in  Greece, 
and  its  consequences.  Synthesis  of  religion  and  morality 
among  the  Jews  :  and  in  Christianity  ....  68-7.8 
Subsequent  collisions  between  religion  and  morals  within 
the  Christian  Church.  The  Reformation  a  moral  protest. 
Immorality  of  its  later  developments.  Modern  protest 
against  these 78-82 

Synopsis  of  Contents.  xliii 

FA>  ;  i. 

VI.  Religion  and  Reason.  Protest  of  Greek  Philosophy  against 
Polytheism.  Christian  Theology  the  meeting- point  of 
Jewish  religion  and  Greek  Philosophy  ....  82-86 

What  Theology  is.  Objection  to  it  from  the  side  of  (i)  re- 
ligion, (2)  Philosophy 86-90 

The  Christian  doctrine  of  the  Trinity  an  appeal  to  the 

reason 90-91 

Its  answer  to  the  speculative  problems  of  Greek  thought 
(i)  as  to  what  unity  is ;  (2)  as  to  the  immanence  of  rea- 
son in  nature 9I-95 

The  witness  of  the  Fathers 95 

The  doctrine  of  the  Trinity  the  true  Monotheism;  the 

doctrine  of  the  Logos  as  personal  yet  immanent  .  .  95-96 

VII.  The  Christian  doctrine   of  God  why  challenged  in  the 

present  day       .........  96 

The  deism  of  the  last  century.  The  new  science  of 

nature.     Evolution   restores   the   truth   of    the   Divine 

immanence  which  deism  denied.  Pantheistic  reaction  .  96-102 
The  Christian  doctrine  of  God  the  safeguard  of  rational 

religion  against  deism  and  pantheism      ....     102-103 

VIII.  The  so-called  'proofs'  of  the  existence  of  God          .        .     103-104 
Parallel  between  the  belief  in  God  and  the  belief  in  nature     104-107 
Verification  in  experience  the  only  'proof.'    Eeason  in  both 

the  interpreter  of  Faith 107-109 


The  problem  of  pain  admits  of  no  new  treatment,  but  the 
attempt  to  use  it  as  an  argument  against  Christianity  calls 
for  a  recapitulation  of  what  may  be  said  on  the  other  side  113 

Pain  is  (i)  animal,  (2)  human. 

(1)  Animal  pain  is  a  thing  of  which  we  can  only  form 

imaginative  conjectures ;  and  these,  besides  being 
liable  to  exaggeration,  are  not  of  a  nature  to  form 
premisses  for  argument 113-116 

(2)  Common  sense  tells  us  that  human  pain  contributes  as 

(a)  punitive,  (&)  purgatorial,  (c)  prophylactic,  to  the 
development  of  the  individual  and  the  race .         .         .     1 1 6- 1 19 
Natural  religion  further  views  it  as  the  necessary  condi- 
tion of  approach,  by  sinful  beings,  to  the  Divine  ;  and 
looks  for  its  fuller  explanation  to  a  future  existence    .     119-122 

Synopsis  of  Contents. 

Christianity  carries  on  the  view  of  natural  religion,  and 
sees  in  pain  and  suffering  : — 

(a)  The  antidote  to  sin 122-124 

(b)  The  means  of  individual  and  social  progress         .  124-125 

(c)  The  source  of  sympathy  with  man         .         .         .  125 

(d)  The  secret  of  union  with  God        ....  125-126 



General  considerations  on  the  study  of  the  historical  prepara- 
tion, as  part  of  the  study  of  the  Incarnation        .        .        .     129-133 
Special  value  of  such  study  in  the  present  age  of  historical  and 
scientific  method  which 

may  be  able  to  gauge  finally  the  value  of  naturalist 

theories  of  the  origin  of  Christianity       .         .         .     133-134 
may  find  its  own  congenial  '  signs '  in  the  beauty  of 
manifold  preparing  process  ;  in  the  wonder  of  an 
apparently  unique  convergence  of  lines  of  prepara- 

tion 134-137 

I.  General  preparation — in  the  world  at  large  : 

(1)  In  the  shaping  of  its  external  order  ....     138-142 

(2)  Through  its  inward  experiences  of 

Failure 142-146 

Progress          146-150 

II.  Special  preparation— in  Israel : 

(1)  The  singularity  of  Israel's  external  position  at  the 

critical  moment  of  the  Christian  Era    .        .        .     150-156 

(2)  The  paradox  of  its  inward  character  .        .        .        .     156-159 

(3)  The  peculiarinfluences  which  had  made  itwhat  it  was:     159-160 

a.  Prophecy 160-167 

b.  The  Law 167-169 

c.  The  Course  of  its  History 170-175 

III.  The  independence  of  the  two  preparations;  the  paradox 

of  their  fulfilment  in  one  Christ 175-178 


I.  The  theory  of  evolution  has  recalled   our  minds  to   the 
'  cosmical  significance '  of  the  Incarnation,  which  was  a 
prominent  thought  in  (i)  the  early  (2)  mediaeval  church     181-187 

Synopsis  of  Contents.  xlv 


II.  Theology  and  Science  move  in  different  but  parallel  planes  : 

one  gives  the  meaning,  the  other  the  method  of  creation  187-188 
Thus  the  doctrine  of  'the  Eternal  Word'  is  compatible 
with  all  the  verified  results  of  scientific  teaching  on 

(1)  energy l%8 

(2)  teleology 188-193 

(3)  origin  and  antiquity  of  man        ....  193-195 

(4)  mental  and  moral  evolution         ....  195-199 

(5)  the  relation  of  philosophy  to  Theology       .        .  199-202 

(6)  the  comparative  study  of  religions       .         .         .  202-205 
while  in  the  Christian  view,  it  both  illuminates  and  is 

illuminated  by  those  results 205-206 

III.  But  when  the  planes  intersect,  and  we  say  '  the  Word  was 

made  flesh,'  we  are  said  to  traverse  experience         .        .  207 

(1)  This  charge  is  only  a  critical  presumption  .        .  207-208 

(2)  All  novelties  traverse  past  experience .        .        .  208 

(3)  Moral  experience  is  as  real  as  physical       .        .  208-209 

(4)  The  Incarnation  harmonizes  with  our  moral  ex- 

perience    ....••••  209-210 

(5)  By  reorganizing  morality  it  reorientates  cha- 

racter          2I1 

(6)  It  has  therefore  a  true  relation  to  all  phases  of 

human  life                         211-214 



I.  The  principle  of  Dogma  is  not  to  be  attacked  or  defended 

on  a  priori  grounds.  The  real  question  is  whether  the 
Incarnation,  as  asserted,  is  true  or  false.  And  this  is  a 
question  for  evidence 217-220 

Even  scientific  'dogmata'  differ  less  from  religious  dogmas 
than  is  sometimes  supposed,  in  that  (a)  both  are  received 
on  evidence,  (6)  both  require  an  experimental  verifica- 
tion, or  (in  so  far  as  either  are  still  held  along  with 
error)  correction  ....••••  220-224 

The  acceptance  of  dogmatic  truth  is  essentially  reasonable. 
Its  claims  to  (a)  authority,  (6)  finality,  are  not  the 
ground  for  accepting  it,  but  a  necessary  outcome  of  the 
facts  accepted  in  it 224-229 

II.  The  evidence  for  the  Incarnation  is  as  many-sided  as 

human  life  .......     229-233 

Synopsis  of  Contents. 

But  primarily  historical.     The  crucial  fact  is  the  Resur- 
rection       233-236 

Everything  is  involved  in  the  answer  to  '  What  think  ye  of 

Christ?' 236-238 

.t  is  an  error  to  think  of  the  belief  of  the  Church  as  an 

edifice  built  up  in  the  age  of  the  Councils  .  .  .  238-239 
The  decisions  of  the  Councils  represent  only  a  growth  in 

intellectual  precision  through  experience  of  error .  .  239-245 
The  creed  in  its  whole  substance  is  the  direct  outcome  of 

the  fact  of  the  Incarnation 245-250 

III.  The  dogmatic  creed  is  to  be  distinguished  from  the  body 

of  theological  literature  which  comments  upon  it  .        .  250 

Theological  comment  is  variable :    it  may  err,  it  may 
develop.     Herein  lie  most  of  the  disputes  of  technical, 
and  the  advances  of  popular,  theology    ....     250-255 
Even  the  creeds  are  human  on  the  side  of  their  language .     255-258 

IV.  The  'damnatory  clauses,'   though   easily  misunderstood, 

really  mean  what  is  both  true,  and  necessary .  .  .  258-260 
Christian  dogmatism  is  after  all  devotion  to  truth,  for 

truth's  sake 260-261 

V.  The  modern  reading  of  the  Scriptures  without   miracle 
and  the  Christ  without  Godhead  depends  for  its  justi- 
fication upon  the  truth  of  an  hypothesis ....     262-266 
But  this  hypothesis  explains  away,  instead  of  explaining, 

the  evidence  ;  while  it  is  itself  incapable  of  proof  .        .     266-270 
Historical  reality  is  essential  to  the  truth  of  the  Incar- 
nation.    Mere  spiritualism  ends  in  unreality  .        .        .     270-272 



I.  Sin  and  sacrifice  in  relation  to  the  Atonement   .        .        .     275-276 

1.  Twofold  character  of  sin  : — 

(a)  A  state  of  alienation  from  God   ....     276-277 

(b)  A  state  of  guilt 277-279 

2.  Twofold  character  of  sacrifice  :— 

(a)  The  expression  of  man's  original  relation  to  God     279-280 
(6)  The  expiation  of  sin,  and  propitiation  of  wrath  .     280-281 
Both  aspects  shewn  in  the  ceremonies  of  the 

Mosaic  Law 281-282 

3.  Inadequacy  of  man's  offerings  to  satisfy  sense  of 

personal  guilt 282-285 

Synopsis  of  Contents.  xlvii 

II.  The  death  of  Christ  answers  to  the  demands  of  the  sense 

of  sin  and  of  the  desire  for  forgiveness         .         .         .  285 

1.  Christ's  death  a  sacrifice  of  propitiation  : — 

(«)  Of  the  wrath  of  God,  which  is — 

(1)  the  hostility  of  Divine  Nature  to  sin    .         .     285-287 

(2)  the  expression  of  the  eternal  law  of  right- 

eousness    .......  288 

(b)  By  virtue — 

(1)  Of  the  obedience  manifested  by  Him  .        .     289-290 

(2)  Of  His  recognition  of  the  Divine  justice       .  290 

(3)  Of  His  death  as  the  necessary  form  of  both     290-292 
The  propitiatory   character  of  His  death 

shewn — 

(i.)  By    the    general    relation    between 

physical  and  spiritual  death     .         .     292-293 
(ii.)  Because  of  the  nature  of  Him  who 

endured  it 293-294 

(iii.)  Because  of  the  results  flowing  from  it  294 

(c)  On  behalf  of  men,  for  He  is  our  Representative — 

(1)  As  Victim,  by  His   perfect  humanity   our 

sinbearer 294-297 

(2)  As  Priest,  able  to  offer  what  man  could  not     297-298 
The  true  vicariousness  of  His  Priesthood      .  298 

2.  Christ's  death  the  source  of  life 298-299 

(a)  As  delivering  us  from  sin 299 

(b)  As  bestowing  new  life 299 

(c)  As  uniting  us  to  God 299 

But  only  as  connected  with  and  issuing  in  the 

Resurrection  and  Ascension    ....     300-301 
.'•.  Christ's  death  in  relation  to  man's  responsibility        .  301 

(a)  The  Atonement,  being  forgiveness,  must  remit 

some  of  the  consequences  of  sin  .        .     301-302 

(6)  But  our  mystical  union  with  Christ  ensures  our 

share  in  the  sacrifice      .....     302-303 

(1)  Not  in  its  propitiation,  which  we  can  only 

plead 3°3-3°4 

(2)  But  by  faith  which  accepts  it  and  recognises 

its  justice 3°4-3°5 

(3)  And  by  following  Him  in  obedience  through 

suffering 3°S-3°7 

III.  Consideration  of  certain  erroneous  statements  of  the  doc- 
trine        3°7 

1.  The  implied  divergence  of  Will  in  the  Godhead          .     307-308 

xlviii  Synopsis  of  Contents. 


2.  The  view  of  Redemption  as  wrought  for  us,  not  in  us  308 

3.  The  view  that   Christ  redeemed  us  by  taking  our 

punishment  instead  of  us  .         .         .         .         .  309 

(1)  The  essential  punishment  of  alienation  He  could 

not  bear 309 

(2)  The  penal  sufferings  which  He  bore  are  not  re- 

mitted to  us 309 

(3)  But  He  bore  them  that  we,  like  Him,  may  bear 

them  sacrificially,  not  as  punishment        .        .     309-310 
IV.  Short  summary. 

1.  The  death  of  Christ  as  propitiatory  )  tested  by 

2.  His  death  as  transforming  pain  and  death  )  experience  310-312 


Christianity  is  an  experienced  or  manifested  life  :  because  its 
essence  is  the  possession  of  the  Spirit,  and  the  Spirit  is 

Life 3IS-W 

I.  The  Holy  Spirit  the  life-giver: — 

In  nature 317-318 

In  man 318-319 

In  the  gradual  recovery  of  man  from  sin          .        .        .     319-320 

In  Christ 320-321 

In  the  Church 321-322 

His  work  in  the  Church  : — 

1.  Social  or  ecclesiastical 322-323 

2.  Nourishing  individuality :  both  of  character  through 

the  Sacraments,  and  of  judgment  through  authority     323-327 

3.  Consecrating  the  whole  of  nature,  material  as  well 

as  spiritual         ........     327-328 

4.  By  a  gradual  method 328 

Imperfection  of  the  Old  Testament  .        .        .        .    328-331 

„          of  the  Church 33I-332 

The  Holy  Spirit  personally  present  and  continually  opera- 
tive in  the  Church 332-333 

II.  The  Theology  of  the  Holy  Spirit.     Real  but  limited  know- 
ledge through  revelation 333~334 

He  is  (a)  distinct  in  Person  but  very  God,  (6)  proceeding 
from  the  Father  and  the  Son,  (c)  One  in  essence  with  the 

Father  and  the  Son 334-335 

The  Doctrine  of  the  Trinity  not  Tritheistic         .        .        .     335-336 

Synopsis  of  Contents.  xlix 


III.  The  Inspiration  of  Holy  Scripture.  Fatal  results  of  not 
keeping  this  in  context  with  the  rest  of  the  Holy  Spirit's 
work  in  the  Church 337~34° 

1.  It  is  an  article  of  the  Faith,  not  among  its  bases   .        .     340-341 

2.  It  is  a  necessary  article 341 

3.  Its  certain  and  primary  meaning,  as  seen  by  examina- 

tion of  the  books  of  the  Old  and  New  Testaments       .     341-348 

4.  Its  practical  meaning  and  obligation      .  349-351 
Questions  raised  as  to  its  meaning  by  Old  Testament 

criticism  : — 

(a)  While  the  Old  Testament  is,  like  the  New  Testa- 
ment, certainly  and  really  historical,  can  it  admit 
of  elements  of  idealism  in  the  narrative  ?      .         .     351-354 
(&)  Can  it  admit  of  dramatic  composition  ?         .         .     354-356 
(c)  Can  it  admit  the  presence  of  primitive  myths?      .     356-357 
The  Church  not  prevented  from  admitting  these  to  be  open 
questions  either : — 

(1)  By  any  dogmatic  definitions  of  inspiration     .         .    357-358 

(2)  By  our  Lord's  language  as  to  the  Old  Testament  .     358-360 
We  may  expect  the  criticism  of  the  Old  Testament,  like 

that  of  the  New,  to  deepen  and  enlarge,  not  impair,  our 
reverence  for  the  '  Word  of  God ' 360-362 



The  Church  the  final  satisfaction  of  certain  social  instincts,  viz. 
the  need  of  co-operation  for  life,  for  knowledge,  and  for 
worship  ..........  365 

These  instincts  are  : — 

(1)  Universal 365-368 

(2)  Embodied   in   Judaism,   and   combined  with  the 

principle  of  God's  election  of  one  people  to  be  a 

source  of  blessing  to  others 368-370 

(3)  Fulfilled  in  the  Incarnation 370-372 

I.  The  Church  as  the  centre  of  spiritual  life  :  oifers  its  bless- 
ings, without  limitation,  to  all  who  are  willing  to  submit 

to  spiritual  discipline,  and  combines  them  in  a  brother- 
hood of  common  service 372~375 

Hence  it  is,  of  necessity : — 

(1)  ApmWebody 375~377 

(2)  One,  both  in  its  spiritual  life  and  in  external  or- 

ganization.    This  unity  implied  in  the  New 

1  Synopsis  of  Contents. 


Testament,  and  explained  in  the  second  cen- 
tury,  as  centering  in  the   Episcopate.      The 
Apostolical  Succession  is   thus  the  pledge  of 
historic   continuity,  and  has  always  been  the 
mark  of  the  English  Church.     Loyalty  to  the 
Church  is  no  narrowing  of  true  sympathy         .     377-384 
II.  The  Church  as  the  Teacher  of  Truth  :  primarily  by  bearing 
witness  to  truths  revealed  to  it ;  secondarily  by  inter- 
preting the  relation  of  these  truths  to  each  other  .        .     384-387 
Hence : — 

(1)  It  witnesses  to  the   reality  of  central  spiritual 

truths  and  teaches  them  authoritatively  to  its 
members 387 

(2)  It  trains  its  members  to  a  rational  apprehension  of 

these  truths 387-388 

(3)  It  leaves  great  freedom  on  points  not  central        .  388-389 

(4)  It  protects  the  truths  themselves  from  decay .        .  389-390 
III.  The  Church  the  home  of  worship :  worship  the  Godward 

expression   of  its  life :    its  highest  expression  in   the 
Eucharist :  its  priestly  work  earned  out  from  the  first  by 

a  special  class  of  ministers 39°~393 

Each  aspect  of  the  Church's  work  completed  by  the  co- 
operation of  the  Blessed  Dead 394 

Causes  of  the  apparent  failure  of  the  Church      .        .        .     394-400 
Need  of  its  witness  and  work  in  modern  times   .         .        .     400-402 



Comprehensiveness  a  characteristic  distinction  of  fruitful  and 
enduring  work :  which  will  here  be  traced  in  the  sacra- 
mental work  of  the  Church ;  with  incidental  reference 
to  the  evidential  import  of  the  inner  coherence  of  Chris- 
tianity, and  its  perfect  aptness  for  humanity  .         .        .    405-408 
I.  Christianity  claims  to  be  a  way  of  life  for  men :  whose 
nature  and  life  involve  two  elements ;  which  are  usually 
distinguished  as  bodily  and  spiritual        ....     408-409 
The  distinction  of  these  two  elements  real;  their 

union  essential 409-411 

It  is  to  be  inquired  whether  this  complexity  of  man's 
nature  is  recognised  and  provided  for  in  the  Church  of 
Christ 411 

Synopsis  of  Contents. 


II.  Grounds  for  anticipating  that  it  would  be  so  : — 

(1)  In  the  very  fact  of  the  Incarnation;   and  more 

particularly 411-413 

(2)  In  the  character  of  the  preparatory  system  whose 

forecasts  it  met 413-414 

(3)  And  in  certain  conspicuous  features  of  Christ's 

ministry 414-415 

The  work  of  Sacraments  to  be  linked  with  this  anticipa- 
tion          415 

III.  The  prominence  of  the  Sacramental  principle  in  Christ's 

teaching  :  to  be  estimated  with  reference  to  the  previous  . 
convictions  of  those  whom  He  taught      ....     415-416 
There  is  thus  found  : — • 

(1)  Abundant  evidence  that  the  general  principle  of 

Sacraments  is  accepted,  to  be  a  characteristic  of 
Christianity 416-417 

(2)  The  authoritative  appointment  of  particular  ex- 

pressions for  this  general  principle  : — 

Expressions  foreshown  in  preparatory  history: 
anticipated  in  preliminary  discourses  :  ap- 
pointed with  great  solemnity  and  em- 
phasis    417-418 

[These  expressions  such  as  may  be  seen  to  be  in- 
trinsically appropriate,  ethically  helpful  and 
instructive,  and  safeguards  against  indivi- 
dualism.]    418-420 

(3)  An  immediate  recognition  in  the  Apostolic  Church 

of  the  force  of  this  teaching,  and  of  the  necessary 
prominence  of  Sacraments  .....  420-421 

IV.  The  correspondence  between  the  ministry  of  Sacraments 

and  the  complex  nature  of  man  appears  in  three  ways : 
since : — 

(1)  The   dignity  and  the   spiritual   capacity  of  the 

material  order  is  thus  vindicated  and  maintained : 
so  that  unreal  and  negative  spirituality  is  pre- 
cluded, and  provision  is  made  for  the  hallowing 
of  stage  after  stage  in  a  human  life  .  .  .  422-426 

(2)  The  claim  of  Christianity  to  penetrate  the  bodily 

life  is  kept  in  its  due  prominence  by  the  very 
nature  of  Sacraments :  the  redemption  of  the 
body  is  foreshown  ;  and  perhaps  begun  .  .  426-429 


Synopsis  of  Contents. 

•  PAGE 

(3)  I  he  evidences  of  mystery  in  human  nature,  its 
moments  of  unearthliness,  its  immortal  longings, 
its  impatience  of  finite  satisfaction,  being  recog- 
nised and  accounted  for  by  the  doctrine  of  Grace 
are  met  by  Sacraments :  and  led  in  an  ordered 
progress  towards  a  perfect  end  ....  429-433 



INTRODUCTORY.— The  twofold  problem  of  Christianity  in  its 
relation  to  human  society — 

(i)  To  consecrate  ;  (2)  to  purify 437-440 

I.  The  Church  is  neutral  as  to  natural  differences,  e.g.  the 

form  of  government,  autocratic  or  democratic  leaning   .    440-442 

II.  The  Church  supplements  the  moral  influence  of  the  State, 
in  respect  of — 

(1)  The  appeal  to  higher  motives         ....     443-445 

e.g.  as  to  the  duties  of — 

(a)  Governors  and  governed    ....  446-45 1 

(6)  Owners  of  property 451-452 

(2)  The  support  of  the  weak  against  the  strong  .        .  452-455 

(3)  The  maintenance  of  religion 455-461 

III.  The  Church  purifies  the  whole  social  life  of  mankind— 

(1)  By  spreading  Christian  ideas          ....     461-462 

(2)  By  maintaining  the  Christian  type  of  character     .     462-463 
CONCLUSION.— The  Church  appeals  to  deeper  needs  than  the 

State  and  is  therefore  fundamentally  Catholic,  and  only 
incidentally  national 463-464 



General  characteristics  of  the  Christian  ethical  system     .        .     467-468 
Dogmatic  postulates  :— 

(i)  Doctrine   of  God  :    God  a  Personal  and  Ethical 


Synopsis  of  Contents.  liii 


(2)  Doctrine  of  Man  :  his  ideal  nature ;  his  destiny  as 

related  to  the  good  through   conscience  and 

freedom ;  his  present  condition          .         .         .  470-476 

(3)  Doctrine  of  Christ :  Catholic  view  of  His  Person   .  476 

I.  Christ's  revelation  of  the  Highest  Good      ....  476-480 

The  Kingdom  of  God :  twofold  meaning  of  the  term  .  477-479 

Christian  view  of  the  world 479-480 

II.  The  Moral  Law ;  its  authority,  sanctions,  and  content       .  480-489 

The  basis  of  obligation  found  in  the  idea  of  personal 

relationship  between  God  and  Man  ....  480-482 

The  sanctions,  and  motives  of  Christian  Morality         .  482-484 

The  Law  of  Duty  embraced  in  the  decalogue       .        .  484-489 

III.  Christ  the  pattern  of  character 489-504 

Conditions  required  in  the  perfect  example         .        .  490-491 
Christ  the  pattern  of  filial  dependence,  obedience,  and 

love 491-494 

Virtuous  action  seen  to  imply  a  harmony  of  the  dif- 
ferent elements  in  personality,  postulating  a  three- 
fold virtuous  principle  supematurally  imparted       .  494-496 
Christian    character :    the    Christian    personality   in    its 
relation : — 

(1)  To  God— Christian  Wisdom 497-498 

(2)  To  Man  — Christian  Justice 498-501 

(3)  To  Self— Christian  Temperance      ....  501-502 

(4)  To  the   hindrances   of    environment  —  Christian 

Fortitude 502-503 

IV.  Christ  the  source  of  the  recreation  of  character          .        .  504-512 

Claim  of  Christianity  to  recreate  character          .        .  504-505 

Dogmatic  truths  implied  in  the  recreative  process      .  505-506 
Holiness   dependent   on    a    permanent    relation    to 

Christ 506 

The  Church  a  school  of  character,  and  sphere  of  indi- 
vidual discipline         .......  506-508 

Christian  ascetics — their  ground  in  reason,  and  effect 

on  character 509-512 

V.  The  consummation  of  God's  kingdom          ....  512-518 

The  intermediate  stage 513 

The  final  stage  of  glory  : 

(i)  The  kingdom  to  be  finally  manifested        .        .  513-514 

(ii)  and  purified  through  judgment           .         .         .  514 

Extent  and  limits  of  the  final  triumph  of  good            .  514-516 

liv  Synopsis  of  Contents. 


Perfection  of  human  personality :  the  perfect  state 
one  of 

harmony 516-517 

glory 517 

blessedness 517 

and  fellowship  in  a  moral  community      .        .        .  517 

VI.  Conclusion  :  relation  of  Christian  Ethics  to  the  products  of 

civilization,  to  individual  character,  to  social  life    .        .  518-520 

APPENDIX  I.     ON  SOME  ASPECTS  or  CHKISTIAN  DUTY  .        .  521-525 

APPENDIX  II.     ON  THE  CHEISTIAN  DOCTKINE  or  SIN  .        .  526-538 






I.  IN  proposing  to  consider  the  origin  and  growth  of  faith, 
we  have  a  practical,  and  not  a  merely  theoretical,  aim.  We 
are  thinking  of  the  actual  problems  which  are,  at  this  moment, 
encompassing  and  hindering  faith :  and  it  is  because  of  their 
urgency  and  their  pressure,  that  we  find  it  worth  while  to 
go  back  upon  our  earliest  beginnings,  in  order  to  ask  what 
Faith  itself  means.  For  only  through  an  examination  of  its 
nature,  its  origin,  and  its  structure,  will  it  be  possible  for  us 
to  sift  the  questions  which  beset  us,  and  to  distinguish  those 
to  which  Faith  is  bound  to  give  an  answer  from  those  which 
it  can  afford  to  let  alone. 

We  set  out  then  on  our  quest,  in  the  mind  of  those  who 
have  felt  the  trouble  that  is  in  the  air.  Even  if  we  our- 
selves be  not  of  their  number,  yet  we  all  suffer  from  their 
hesitation :  we  all  feel  the  imparted  chill  of  their  anxieties. 
For  we  are  of  one  family :  and  the  sickness,  or  depression  of 
some,  must  affect  the  whole  body.  All  of  us,  even  the  most 
confident,  are  interested  in  the  case  of  those  who  are  fearing 
for  themselves,  as  they  sadly  search  their  own  hearts,  and 
ask,  '  What  is  it  to  believe  ?  Do  I  know  what  it  is  to  be- 
lieve ?  Have  I,  or  have  I  not,  that  which  can  be  called 
"  faith  "  1  How  can  I  be  sure  ?  What  can  I  say  of  myself? ' 
Such  questions  as  these  are  haunting  and  harassing  many 
among  us  who  find  themselves  facing  the  Catholic  Creed, 
with  its  ring  of  undaunted  assurance,  with  its  unhesitating 
claim  to  unique  and  universal  supremacy,  and  contrast  with 
this  their  own  faint  and  tentative  apprehension  of  the  strong 
truths,  which  are  so  confidently  asserted.  Such  men  and 

B  2 

4  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

women  are  anxious  and  eager  to  number  themselves  among 
those  that  believe :  but  can  they  call  this  temper  '  belief,' 
which  is  so  far  below  the  level  of  the  genuine  response  which 
those  Creeds  obviously  expect1?  Where  is  the  blitheness  of 
faith  1  Where  is  its  unshaken  conviction  ?  Where  is  its 
invincible  simplicity1?  Why  is  it  that  they  only  succeed  in 
moving  forward  with  such  painful  indecision? 

Now,  it  is  to  this  temper  that  this  essay  is  addressed.  It 
does  not  aim  at  convicting  a  hostile  disbelief,  but  at  succour- 
ing a  distressed  faith.  And  this  it  does  under  the  conviction 
that,  in  so  doing,  it  is  responding  to  the  peculiar  character 
and  needs  of  the  situation. 

For  the  urgency,  the  peril  of  the  hour,  lies,  not  so  much  in 
the  novelty,  or  force,  of  the  pressure  that  is  brought  to  bear 
against  faith,  as  in  the  behaviour  of  faith  itself  under  the 
pressure.  What  has  happened  is,  not  that  faith  has  been 
confounded,  but  that  it  has  been  challenged.  It  has  been 
challenged  by  new  social  needs,  by  strange  developments  of 
civilisation,  by  hungers  that  it  had  not  yet  taken  into  account, 
by  thirsts  that  it  had  not  prepared  itself  to  satisfy.  It  has 
been  challenged  by  new  scientific  methods,  wholly  unlike  its 
familiar  intellectual  equipment ;  by  new  worlds  of  facts  opened 
to  its  astonishment  through  discoveries  which  have  changed 
the  entire  look  of  the  earth ;  by  immense  masses  of  novel 
material,  which  it  has  been  suddenly  and  violently  required 
to  assimilate ;  by  strange  fashions  of  speech  in  science  and 
history  ;  by  a  babel  of  '  unknown  tongues  '  in  all  departments 
of  learning  and  literature. 

Faith  is  under  the  pressure  of  this  challenge  :  and  the 
primary  question  is,  how  will  it  behave ?  What  is  it  going 
to  say,  or  do,  in  face  of  this  exciting  transformation  which 
has  passed  over  the  entire  surface  of  our  intellectual  scenery  ? 
How  will  it  deal  with  the  situation1?  Will  it  prove  itself 
adequate  to  the  crisis  1  To  what  extent  can  it  afford  to  sub- 
mit to  the  transforming  process  which  has  already  operated 
upon  the  mind  and  the  imagination?  If  it  submit,  can  it 
survive  ?  And  in  what  condition  ?  with  what  loss,  or  damage, 
or  change  ?  On  every  side  these  challenges  reach  it ;  they  beat 

i.     Faith.  5 

at  its  doors ;  they  arrive  in  pelting  haste ;  they  clamour  for 
immediate  solutions. 

Now  faith,  under  these  rapid  and  stormy  challenges,  is  apt 
to  fall  into  panic.  For  this,  surely,  is  the  very  meaning  of 
a  panic — a  fear  that  feeds  upon  itself.  Men  in  a  panic  are 
frightened  at  finding  themselves  afraid.  So  now  with  faith  ; 
it  is  terrified  at  its  own  alarm.  How  is  it  (it  asks  itself) 
that  it  should  find  itself  baffled  and  timorous  ?  If  faith  were 
faith,  would  it  ever  lose  its  confidence  1  To  be  frightened  is 
to  confess  itself  false :  for  faith  is  confidence  in  God,  Who 
can  never  fail.  How  can  faith  allow  of  doubt  or  hesitation  1 
Surely  for  faith  to  hesitate,  to  be  confused,  is  to  deny  its 
very  nature.  Thus  many  anxious  and  perplexed  souls  retreat 
before  their  own  perplexities.  Because  their  faith  is  troubled, 
they  distrust  and  abandon  their  faith.  The  very  fact  that 
it  is  in  distress  becomes  an  argument  against  it. 

It  is  at  this  point,  and  because  of  this  particular  peril  that 
we  are  urgently  required  to  consider  very  seriously  the  nature 
and  conditions  of  faith.  For  our  panic  arises  from  our  as- 
sumption that  faith  is  of  such  a  nature,  that  the  perplexity, 
into  which,  now  and  again,  we  find  ourselves  thrown,  must 
be  impossible  to  it,  must  be  incompatible  with  it.  Now,  is 
this  so?  Ought  we  to  expect  of  faith  that  its  confidence 
should  never  fail  it — that  its  light  should  be  always  decisive  1 
Is  faith  incriminated  by  the  mere  fact  that  it  is  in  difficulties '? 

Let  us,  first,  consider  what  has  occurred.  Perhaps  the  situa- 
tion itself,  if  we  quietly  review  it,  will  give  a  reason  why  it 
is  that,  just  at  the  moment  when  we  most  need  vigour  and 
assurance,  we  should  find  ourselves  stripped  of  all  that  tends 
to  reassure. 

For  the  peculiarity  of  the  disturbance  which  we  have  got  to 
encounter  lies  in  this,  that  it  has  removed  from  us  the  very 
weapons  by  which  we  might  hope  to  encounter  it.  Faith's 
evidential  material  is  all  corroborative  and  accumulative  ;  it 
draws  it  from  out  of  an  external  world,  which  can  never 
wholly  justify,  or  account  for  the  internal  reality,  yet  which 
can  so  group  itself,  that  from  a  hundred  differing  lines,  it  offers 
indirect  and  parenthetic  and  convergent  witness  of  that  which 

6  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

is,  itself,  beyond  the  reach  of  external  proof.  It  is  this  gradual 
grouping  of  an  outer  life  into  that  assorted  perspective  in 
which  it  offers  the  most  effective  corroboration  of  the  inner 
truth,  which  faith  slowly  accomplishes  upon  the  matter  which 
human  science  presents  to  it.  When  once  the  grouping  is 
achieved,  so  that  the  outer  world,  known  under  certain 
scientific  principles,  tallies  harmoniously  with  its  inner  con- 
victions, faith  feels  secure.  The  external  life  offers  it  pictures, 
analogies,  metaphors — all  echoing  and  repeating  the  inter- 
nal world.  Faith  beholds  itself  mirrored :  and,  so  echoed,  so 
mirrored,  it  feels  itself  in  possession  of  corroborating  evidences. 
But  the  present  scientific  confusion  seems  to  have  shattered 
the  mirror — to  have  broken  up  the  perspective — to  have  dis- 
solved the  well-known  groupings.  It  is  true,  as  some  of  the 
essays  which  follow  will  try  to  show,  that  the  convulsion  of 
which  we  speak,  lies,  chiefly,  in  a  change  of  position,  or  of 
level ;  so  that  great  masses  of  the  matter,  now  thrown  into 
confusion,  will  be  found  to  compose  themselves  afresh,  under 
the  newer  conditions  of  review,  and  will  appear  again  as  part 
and  parcel  of  the  scientific  scenery.  It  is  a  change  of  perspec- 
tive more  than  anything  else.  But,  no  doubt,  such  a  change  is 
just  of  the  character  to  upset  us,  to  disturb  us ;  for,  during 
the  change,  while  shifting  from  the  old  position  to  the  new,  we 
are  in  the  very  chaos  of  confusion ;  everything  seems,  for  the 
moment,  to  be  tumbling  about  around  us :  the  entire  scene 
grows  unsteady ;  though,  indeed,  when  once  we  have  got  our 
feet  firmly  placed  at  the  new  level  of  vantage,  much,  that  once 
was  familiar,  is  discovered  to  be  back  again  in  its  place, 
looking  much  the  same  as  of  old.  It  is  the  first  shock  of 
this  enforced  transition  which  is  so  calculated  to  terrify :  as 
when,  for  instance,  men  see  their  habitual  reliance  on  the 
evidence  for  design  in  nature,  which  had  been  inherited  from 
Paley,  yield,  and  vanish,  under  the  review  of  the  facts  with 
which  the  theory  of  evolution  acquaints  them.  What  they 
feel  is,  that  their  familiar  mode  of  interpreting  their  faith, 
of  justifying  it,  of  picturing  it,  has  abruptly  been  torn  from 
them.  That  which  once  seemed  to  evidence  it  in  the  outer 
world,  has  ceased  to  be  accepted  or  trusted.  The  habitual 

i.     Faith.  7 

ways  of  argument,  the  accepted  assumptions,  which  they  had 
hitherto  used  as  their  supports  and  their  instruments — have 
been  withdrawn — have  become  obsolete.  Faith  is  thrown  back 
on  itself,  on  its  own  inherent,  naked  vitality  ;  it  is  robbed  for 
the  moment  of  that  sense  of  solidity  and  security,  which  forti- 
fies and  refreshes  it,  when  the  outer  world  of  natural  facts, 
and  the  inner  world  of  intellect  and  fancy,  all  corroborate  its 
confidence  in  itself,  by  harmonious  attestations  of  its  validity. 
The  old  world  of  things  had  been  brought  into  this  adaptation 
with  the  principles  of  belief.  Faith  was  at  home  in  it,  and 
looked  out  over  it  with  cheerfulness,  and  moved  about  it  with 
freedom.  But  that  old  world  is  gone ;  and  the  new  still  lies 
untested,  unsorted,  unverified,  unassimilated,  unhandled.  It 
looks  foreign,  odd,  remote.  Faith  finds  no  obvious  corrobora- 
tions  in  it :  there,  where  it  used  to  feel  buttressed  and  warm, 
it  now  feels  chilly  and  exposed l. 

This  is  the  first  consequence,  and  it  is  serious  enough  in  itself 
to  provoke  alarm.  Faith  cannot  be  at  ease  or  confident,  until 
the  outer  world  responds  to  its  own  convictions  ;  and  yet  ease 
and  confidence  are  exactly  what  it  is  challenged  to  exhibit. 

And  then,  when  a  man,  under  this  sense  of  fear,  de- 
prived of  external  testimonies,  attempts  to  exhibit,  to  evoke, 
to  examine,  his  inner  conviction,  in  its  inherent  and  vital 
character,  as  it  is  in  itself,  unsupported  by  adventitious  aids, 
he  is  astonished  at  his  own  difficulty  in  discovering  or  dis- 
closing it.  Where  is  it  all  fled — that  which  he  had  called  his 
faith"?  He  had  enjoyed  it,  had  relied  on  it,  had  again  and 
again  asserted  it  in  word  and  deed  :  and  now,  when  he  wants 
to  look  at  it,  when  he  is  summoned  to  produce  it,  when  he  is 
challenged  to  declare  its  form  and  fashion;  he  finds  himself 
dazed,  bewildered,  searching  helplessly  for  that  which  ever 
escapes  him,  grasping  at  a  fleeting  shadow,  which  baffles  his 
efforts  to  endow  it  with  fixity  and  substance.  And,  so  finding, 
he  grows  yet  more  desperately  alarmed :  it  seems  to  him  that 
he  has  been  self-deceived,  betrayed,  abandoned.  He  is  bitterly 
sensitive  to  the  sharp  contrast  between  the  triumphant 
solidity  with  which  scientific  facts  bear  down  upon  him, 

1  Cf.  on  all  this,  an  excellent  statement  in  Mark  Pattison's  Sermons.  Serm.  7. 

8  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

certified,  undeniable,  substantial,  and  the  vague,  shifty,  in- 
distinct phantom,  into  which  his  conviction  vanishes  as  soon 
as  he  attempts  to  observe  it  in  itself,  or  draw  it  out  for 
public  inspection. 

Yet,  if  we  consider  what  faith  signifies,  we  shall  see  at  once 
that  this  contrast  ought  to  carry  with  it  no  alarm.  It  is  a 
contrast  which  follows  on  the  very  nature  of  faith.  If  we  had 
understood  its  nature,  we  could  never  have  expected  it  to  dis- 
close itself  under  the  same  conditions  as  those  which  govern 
the  observation  of  scientific  facts.  Faith  is  an  elemental 
energy  of  the  soul,  and  the  surprise  that  we  are  undergoing 
at  not  being  able  to  bring  it  under  direct  observation,  is  only 
an  echo  of  the  familiar  shock  with  which  we  learn  that  science 
has  ransacked  the  entire  bodily  fabric  of  man,  and  has  nowhere 
come  across  his  soul ;  or  has  searched  the  heavens  through  and 
through  with  its  telescope,  and  has  seen  no  God.  We  are  up- 
set for  a  moment  when  first  we  hear  this  ;  and  then,  we  recover 
ourselves  as  we  recollect  that,  if  God  be  what  we  believe  Him 
to  be,  immaterial  and  spiritual,  then  He  would  cease  to  be 
Himself,  if  He  were  visible  through  a  telescope :  and  that  if 
the  spirit  of  man  be  what  we  believe  it  to  be,  that  is  the  very 
reason  why  no  surgeon's  knife  can  ever  arrive  at  it. 

And,  as  with  the  soul,  so  with  all  its  inherent  and  essential 
acts.  They  are  what  it  is :  they  can  no  more  be  visible  than 
it  can.  How  can  any  of  the  basal  intuitions,  on  which  our 
knowledge  rests,  present  themselves  to  our  inspection  in  the 
guise  of  external  and  phenomenal  facts  ?  That  which  observes 
can  never,  strictly  speaking,  observe  itself.  It  can  never  look 
on  at  itself  from  outside,  or  view  itself  as  one  among  the  mul- 
titude of  things  that  come  under  its  review.  How  can  it  ?  It 
is  itself  the  organ  of  vision :  and  the  eye  cannot  see  its  own 
power  of  seeing.  This  is  why  natural  science,  which  is  an 
organised  system  of  observation,  finds  that  its  own  observing 
mind  is  absolutely  and  totally  outside  its  ken.  It  can  take 
stock  of  the  physiological  condition  of  thoughts  or  of  feelings  ; 
but  they  themselves,  in  their  actual  reality,  are  all  rigidly 
shut  out  from  the  entire  area  of  scientific  research.  Wherever 
they  begin,  it  ends ;  its  methods  abruptly  fail.  It  possesses 

i.     Faith.  9 

no  instrument  by  which  to  make  good  its  advance  further. 
For  the  only  instrument  which  it  knows  how  to  use,  and 
by  which  alone  it  can  search,  and  examine,  is  itself  the 
object  which  it  desires  to  submit  to  examination.  But  if 
it  is  to  be  examined,  who,  and  what,  is  to  conduct  the  ex- 
amination? The  observing  mind  that  turns  round  to  ex- 
plore itself,  carries  itself  round  as  it  turns.  It  can  never 
say — 'Let  me  look  at  myself,  as  if  I  were  a  phenomenon, 
as  a  fact  presented  to  my  own  consciousness,'  for  it  itself 
would  be  engaged  in  the  act  of  looking :  it  itself  is  the  con- 
sciousness to  which  it  proposes  to  present  itself1.  So  again, 
the  thought  itself  can  never  hope,  by  rigid  analysing,  to 
arrive  at  last  at  itself,  as  the  final  residue  of  the  analysis, 
for  it  is  itself,  all  along,  employed  as  analyst.  The  process 
of  analysis  is,  itself,  the  real  disclosure  of  what  thought 
is :  and  this  disclosure  is  made  just  as  effectively  even 
though  the  result  of  the  analysis  be  to  declare  that  it  can 
discover  nothing  that  corresponds  to  thought.  It  is,  in- 
deed, impossible  that  anything  should  so  correspond,  except 
the  power  to  analyse  ;  but  this  power  is  thought :  and  every 
act  of  the  analysis,  which  issues  in  the  sceptical  conclusion, 
has  verified  the  real  existence  of  thought.  It  is  the  same 
with  all  profound  spiritual  acts.  None  of  them  can  ever  be 
offered  to  public  inspection :  they  can  never  be  handed  across 
to  another,  for  him  to  look  at.  For  they  are  living  acts,  and 
not  external  results.  How  can  an  act  of  will,  or  of  love,  be 
submitted  to  observation "?  Its  outward  result  is  there  to  be 
examined ;  but  it,  itself,  is  incapable  of  transportation.  If 
anyone  were  to  ask  '  What  is  it  you  mean  by  thinking,  or 
loving,  or  willing  ? '  who  could  tell  him  ?  It  would  be 
obviously  impossible  to  explain,  except  to  a  being  who  could 
think,  will,  and  love.  You  could  give  him  illustrations  of 
what  you  mean — signs — instances — evidences  ;  but  they  can 
only  be  intelligible,  as  evidences,  to  one  who  already  possesses 
the  faculties.  No  one  can  do  a  piece  of  thinking  for  another, 

1  It  is  not  intended  to  deny  that       be    won    by    methods    of    empirical 
the  mind  can  ever  know  itself,  but       observation, 
only  that  such  knowledge  can  ever 

io  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

and  hand  it  over  to  him  in  a  parcel.  Only  by  thinking,  can 
it  be  known  what  thought  is:  only  by  feeling  can  it  be 
understood  what  is  meant  by  a  feeling:  only  by  seeing, 
willing,  loving,  can  we  have  the  least  conception  of  sight,  or 
of  will,  or  of  love. 

And  faith  stands  with  these  primary  intuitions.  It  is  deeper 
and  more  elemental  than  them  all:  and,  therefore,  still  less 
than  they  can  it  admit  of  translation  into  other  conditions 
than  its  own ; — can  still  less  submit  itself  to  public  observation. 
It  can  never  be  looked  at  from  without.  It  can  be  known 
only  from  within  itself.  Belief  is  only  intelligible  by  be- 
lieving. Just  as  a  man  who  is  asked  to  say  what  love  is,  apart 
from  all  its  outward  manifestations  and  results,  must  be  driven 
back  on  the  iteration — '  Love  is — what  love  is :  everyone  who 
loves,  knows  ;  no  one  who  does  not  love,  can  ever  know  ;'  just 
as  a  man,  who  is  challenged  to  describe  and  define  his  feelings 
or  his  desires,  when  stripped  of  all  the  outward  evidences 
that  they  can  possibly  give  of  themselves,  is  thrown  into 
inarticulate  bewilderment,  and  can  give  no  intelligible  answer, 
and  can  fashion  to  himself  no  distinct  feature  or  character, 
and  can  only  assert,  confusedly,  that  he  feels  what  he 
feels,  and  that  to  desire  is  to  desire; — so  with  faith. 
The  scientific  convulsion  has  shaken  and  confused  its 
normal  modes  of  self-interpretation,  its  usual  evidences,  signs, 
illustrations :  these  outer  aids  at  definition,  by  metaphor  or 
by  corroboration,  are  all  brought  under  dim  eclipse  for  the 
moment:  their  relative  values  have  been  thrown  into  un- 
certainty: they  are  undergoing  temporary  displacement,  and 
no  one  is  quite  sure  which  is  being  shifted,  and  which  can  be 
trusted  to  stand  firm.  Faith,  robbed  of  its  habitual  aids  to 
expression,  is  summoned  to  show  itself  on  the  field,  in  its  own 
inner  character.  And  this  is  just  what  it  never  can  or  may  do. 
It  can  only  reiterate,  in  response  to  the  demand  for  definition, 
'  Faith  is  faith.'  '  Believing  is — just  believing.'  Why,  then, 
let  ourselves  be  distressed,  or  bewildered,  by  finding  ourselves 
reduced  to  this  impotence  of  explanation  ?  Far  from  it  bei] 
an  incrimination  of  our  faith,  to  find  ourselves  caught  in  such 
a  difficulty  of  utterance,  it  is  just  what  must  happen  if  faith 

i.     Faith.  1 1 

be  a  profound  and  radical  act  of  the  inner  soul.  It  is,  es- 
sentially, an  active  principle,  a  source  of  energy,  a  spring  of 
movement :  and,  as  such,  its  verification  can  never  take  place 
through  passive  introspection.  It  verifies  itself  only  in  actions : 
its  reality  can  only  be  made  evident  through  experience  of  its 
living  work. 

II.  We  may,  then,  free  ourselves  from  the  sinister  suspicions 
which  belong  to  panic.  It  is  not  the  superficiality  of  our 
faith,  which  is  the  secret  of  our  bewilderment,  but  its  depth. 
The  deepest  and  most  radical  elements  of  our  being  are, 
necessarily,  the  hardest  to  unearth.  They  are,  obviously,  the 
most  remote  from  the  surface  of  our  lives :  they  are  the 
rarest  to  show  themselves  in  the  open  daylight :  they  require 
the  severest  effort  to  disentangle  their  identity :  they  lie  below 
all  ordinary  methods  of  utterance  and  expression ;  they  can 
only  be  discovered  through  careful  recognition  of  the  secret 
assumptions  which  are  involved  in  the  acts  and  words  which 
they  habitually  produce.  By  these  acts  and  words  their 
existence  and  their  force  is  suggested,  but  not  exhausted — 
manifested,  but  not  accounted  for.  These  form  our  only 
positive  interpretation  and  evidence  :  and  such  evidence  must, 
therefore,  always  remain  inadequate,  imperfect ;  we  have 
always  and  inevitably  to  go  behind  it,  and  beyond  it,  in  order 
to  reach  and  touch  the  motive-energy  which  is  disclosed  to  us 
through  it.  No  wonder  that  we  find  this  far  from  an  easy 
matter.  No  wonder  that,  under  the  pressure  of  a  hostile 
challenge,  we  often  lose  ourselves  in  a  confused  babble,  as 
we  struggle  to  make  plain  to  others,  or  even  to  ourselves, 
these  innermost  convictions  of  our  souls. 

Indeed,  such  things  can  never  be  made  plain :  no  one  ought 
to  expect  that  they  should.  For,  if  we  think  of  it,  the 
primary  acts  of  spirit  must  be  the  last  things  that  can  ever  be 
made  plain ;  for  the  entire  life  issuing  from  them  is  their  only 
interpretation,  so  that  only  when  that  life  is  closed,  can  their 
interpretation  be  complete.  And  here,  in  faith,  we  are  at  the 
root  of  a  life  which,  as  we  believe,  it  will  take  eternity  to  fulfil. 
And,  if  so,  only  in  and  through  eternity  can  its  full  evidence 
for  itself  be  produced,  or  its  right  interpretation  be  yielded. 

1 2  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

Surely,  this  truth  clears  us  from  many  clamorous  de- 
mands, which  ask  of  us  an  impossible  verification.  For  if 
once  we  saw  that  we  were  employed  in  verifying  the  nature 
of  that  which,  if  it  be  real,  can,  confessedly,  present  us,  on 
this  side  of  the  grave,  only  with  the  most  fragmentary  evi- 
dence of  its  character,  we  should  put  lightly  aside  the  taunting 
challenge  to  produce  such  proof  of  our  motive  principle  as 
will  stand  comparison  with  the  adequate  and  precise  evidences 
of  a  scientific  fact,  or  which  will  submit  to  the  rigid  tests  of 
a  legal  examination.  If  faith  be  faith,  it  could  not,  for  that 
very  reason,  fulfil  the  conditions  so  proposed  to  it.  These 
legal  and  scientific  conditions  are  laboriously  and  artificially 
limited  to  testing  the  presence  of  a  motive,  or  a  force,  which 
must  be  assumed  to  exist  under  fixed,  precise,  complete  con- 
ditions, here  and  now.  They  pre-suppose  that,  for  all  prac- 
tical purposes,  its  quantity  cannot  vary,  or  fluctuate.  If  it 
be  present  at  all,  it  is  present  in  a  distinct  and  formal  manner, 
open  to  definite  measurement,  expressing  itself  in  unalter- 
able characteristics.  The  entire  consideration  of  its  activity 
is  strictly  confined  to  the  normal  horizon  of  the  actual 
world  of  present  existence.  These  assumptions  are  the  first 
necessity  of  all  forms  of  science,  without  making  which,  it 
could  not  even  begin.  They  are  the  conditions  of  all  its 
success.  But  they  are  also  its  limitations :  and  as  such,  they 
most  certainly  exclude  from  their  survey,  anything  that  pro- 
fesses to  exist  after  the  manner  of  faith.  For  what  is  faith  1 
It  is  no  steady  force,  existing  under  certified  and  unvarying 
conditions  which  receive  their  final  determination  in  the 
world  about  us.  Faith  is,  while  it  is  here  on  earth,  only 
tentative  probation:  it  is  a  struggling  and  fluctuating  effoi 
in  man  to  win  for  himself  a  valid  hold  upon  things  that  exist 
under  the  conditions  of  eternity.  In  faith,  we  watch  the  earlj 
and  rude  beginnings,  amid  an  environment  that  but  faintb 
and  doubtfully  responds  to  it,  of  a  power  still  in  the  womb- 
still  unborn  into  its  true  sphere — still  enveloped  in  darl 
wrappings  which  encumber  and  impede.  We  see  here  but  it 
blind,  uncertain  pushings,  its  hesitating  moves,  now  forwarc 
now  back,  now  strangely  vigorous  and  assertive,  and  thei 

i.     Faith.  1 3 

again,  as  strangely  weak  and  retreating.  Its  significance,  its 
interpretation,  its  future  possibilities,  its  secret  of  develop- 
ment— all  these  lie  elsewhere,  beyond  death,  beyond  vision  : 
we  can  but  dimly  guess,  from  its  action  here,  what  powers  feed 
it,  on  what  resources  it  can  rely,  what  capacity  of  growth  is 
open  to  it,  what  final  issue  determines  the  measure  and  value 
of  its  efforts  and  achievements  here.  Such  a  force  as  this  is 
bound  to  upset  all  our  ablest  calculations.  We  can  never  lay 
down  rules  to  govern  and  predict  its  capabilities.  It  will 
disappoint  every  conceivable  test  that  we  can  devise  for 
fixing  its  conditions.  It  will  laugh  at  our  attempts  to  circum- 
scribe its  action.  Where  we  look  for  it  to  be  weak,  it  will 
suddenly  show  itself  strong :  when  we  are  convinced  that  we 
may  expect  a  vigorous  display  of  its  capacities,  it  will  mys- 
teriously lapse.  All  this  may  terribly  disconcert  us.  It  may 
tempt  us  into  angry  declarations  that  such  an  incalculable 
existence  is  unworthy  of  scientific  attention — is  fanciful,  is 
unreal.  But  the  only  lesson  which  we  ought  to  learn  is  that 
methods  adapted  for  one  state  of  things  are  bound  to  prove 
themselves  futile  when  applied  to  another.  If  we  are  em- 
ployed in  observing  a  life,  which  has  its  ground  and  its  end 
in  a  world  beyond  the  present,  then  all  methods  framed  for 
the  express  and  definite  purpose  of  examining  life  as  it  exists 
here  and  now,  will  necessarily  prove  themselves  ludicrously 
inapt.  The  futility,  the  barrenness,  the  ineptitude  of  our 
researches,  lies,  not  with  the  faith  against  which  we  level  our 
irritable  complaints,  but  with  the  methods  which,  by  their  very 
terms  of  definition,  proclaim  themselves  to  be  misplaced. 

Where,  then,  must  we  dig  to  unearth  the  roots  of  faith? 
What  are  the  conditions  of  its  rise  and  exercise?  Wherein 
lie  its  grounds,  and  the  justification  of  its  claim? 

Faith  grounds  itself,  solely  and  wholly,  on  an  inner  and  vital 
relation  of  the  soul  to  its  source.  This  source  is  most  certainly 
elsewhere ;  it  is  not  within  the  compass  of  the  soul's  own 
activity.  In  some  mode,  inconceivable  and  mysterious,  our 
life  issues  out  of  an  impenetrable  background :  and  as  our 
life  includes  spiritual  elements,  that  background  has  spiritual 
factors :  and  as  our  life  is  personal,  within  that  background 

14  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

exists  personality.  This  supply  of  life  in  which  we  begin, 
from  out  of  which  our  being  opens,  can  never  cease,  so  long 
as  we  exist,  to  sustain  us  by  one  continuous  act.  Ever  its 
resources  flow  in :  ever  its  vital  support  is  unwithdrawn.  In 
some  fashion  or  other,  we  all  know  that  this  must  be  so :  and 
the  Christian  Creed  only  lifts  into  clear  daylight,  and  endows 
with  perfect  expression,  this  elementary  and  universal  verity, 
when  it  asserts  that  at  the  very  core  of  each  man's  being  lies, 
and  lives,  and  moves,  and  works,  the  creative  energy  of  the 
Divine  Will — '  the  Will  of  our  Father  Which  is  in  Heaven.' 

We  stand,  by  the  necessities  of  our  existence,  in  the  relation- 
ship of  sons  to  a  Father,  Who  has  poured  out  into  us,  and  still 
pours,  the  vigour  of  His  own  life.  This  is  the  one  basis  of  all 
faith.  Unless  this  relationship  actually  exists,  there  could  be 
no  faith :  if  it  exists,  then  faith  is  its  essential  corollary :  it  is 
bound  to  appear.  Our  faith  is  simply  the  witness  to  this  inner 
bond  of  being.  That  bond,  which  is  the  secret  of  our  entire 
existence,  accounting  for  all  that  we  are,  or  do,  or  feel,  or  think, 
or  say,  must  become  capable  of  recognition  by  a  being  that  is, 
in  any  sense,  free,  intelligent,  conscious :  and  this  recognition 
by  us  of  the  source  from  whence  we  derive,  is  what  we  mean  by 
faith.  Faith  is  the  sense  in  us  that  we  are  Another's  creature, 
Another's  making.  Even  as  we  not  only  feel,  but  feel  that 
we  feel ;  not  only  think,  but  know  that  we  think ;  not  only 
choose,  but  determine  to  choose :  so,  below  and  within  all 
our  willing,  and  thinking,  and  feeling,  we  are  conscious  of 
Another,  whose  mind  and  will  alone  make  possible  both  the 
feeling  that  we  feel,  and  also  the  capacity  to  feel  it ;  both  the 
thought  that  we  think,  and  also  the  capacity  to  know  it; 
both  the  will  that  we  put  forth,  as  well  as  the  power  to 
determine  it.  Every  act,  every  desire,  every  motive  of  ours, 
is  dependant  on  the  source  out  of  sight :  we  hang  on  Another's 
will ;  we  are  alive  in  Another's  life.  All  our  life  is  a  dis- 
covery, a  disclosure,  of  this  secret.  We  find  it  out  only  by 
living.  As  we  put  out  powers  that  seem  to  be  our  own,  still 
even  in  and  by  the  very  act  of  putting  them  out,  we  reveal 
them  to  be  not  our  own  ;  we  discover  that  we  are  always 
drawing  on  unseen  resources.  We  are  sons :  that  is  the  root- 

i.     Faith.  1 5 

law  of  our  entire  self.  And  faith  is  the  active  instinct  of  that 
inner  sonship :  it  is  the  point  at  which  that  essential  sonship 
emerges  into  consciousness  ;  it  is  the  disclosure  to  the  self  of 
its  own  vital  secret ;  it  is  the  thrill  of  our  inherent  childhood, 
as  it  makes  itself  felt  within  the  central  recesses  of  the  life ; 
it  is  the  flame  that  shoots  into  consciousness  at  the  recos:- 


nition  of  the  touch  of  our  divine  fatherhood ;  it  is  the  imme- 
diate response  of  the  sonship  in  us  to  its  discovered  origin. 

Faith,  then,  is  an  instinct  of  relationship  based  on  an  inner 
actual  fact.  And  its  entire  office  and  use  lies  in  realising  the 
secret  fact.  For  the  bond  is  spiritual ;  and  it  can  only  realise 
itself  in  a  spirit  that  has  become  aware  of  its  own  laws.  No 
blind  animal  acceptance  of  the  divine  assistance  can  draw 
out  the  powers  of  this  sonship.  The  reception  of  the  assist- 
ance must  itself  be  conscious,  loving,  intelligent,  willing. 
The  natural  world  can  receive  its  full  capacities  from  God 
without  recognition  of  the  source  whence  they  flow  in :  but 
this  absence  of  living  recognition  forbids  it  ever  to  surpass 
those  fixed  limits  of  development  which  we  name  '  natural.' 
But  a  creature  of  God  that  could  not  only  receive  but  recog- 
nise that  it  received,  would,  by  that  very  recognition,  lay 
itself  open  to  an  entirely  novel  development;  it  would  be 
susceptible  of  infinitely  higher  influences  shed  down  upon  it 
from  God ;  it  would  admit  far  finer  and  richer  inpourings  of 
divine  succours ;  it  would  be  fed,  not  only  from  underground 
channels  as  it  were,  but  by  fresh  inlets  which  its  conscious- 
ness of  its  adherence  in  God  would  uncover  and  set  in  motion. 
The  action  of  God  upon  His  creatures  would  be  raised  to  a 
new  level  of  possibility:  for  a  living  and  intelligent  will 
has  capacities  of  receptivity,  which  were  altogether  excluded 
so  long  as  God  merely  gave,  and  the  creature  blindly  and 
dumbly  took.  Faith,  then,  opens  an  entirely  new  career 
for  creaturely  existence ;  and  the  novelty  of  this  career  is 
expressed  in  the  word  '  supernatural.'  The  '  supernatural ' 
world  opens  upon  us  as  soon  as  faith  is  in  being 1. 

1  The  word  «  super- natural '  is  ob-  of  life  are  not  'natural.'  Of  course, 
yiously  misleading,  since  it  seems  to  the  higher  the  life,  the  more  intensely 
imply  that  the  higher  spiritual  levels  '  natural '  it  is  ;  and  the  nature  of 

1 6  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

And  this  career,  it  will  be  seen,  is  markedly  distinct  from 
the  natural  in  this — that  it  is  capable  of  ever  advancing 
expansion.  All  natural  things,  which  blindly  accept  their 
life  from  God,  must,  perforce,  have  a  decreed  and  certified 
development,  limited  by  the  conditions  in  which  they  are 
found  existing.  Their  receptivity  is  a  fixed  quantity,  deter- 
mined by  the  character  imposed  upon  them  at  creation,  and 
bound  to  come  to  an  abrupt  arrest  at  some  precise  point1. 
But  receptivity  through  conscious  recognition  is  open  to  a 
development  of  which  it  is  impossible  for  us  to  fix  the  limits. 
For  this  living  recognition  itself  advances  in  its  capacity  to 
see  and  understand.  Every  act  by  which  it  recognises  the 
Giver  in  the  gifts,  heightens  and  intensifies  its  power  to  re- 
cognise Him ;  and  every  increase  of  its  power  to  recognise 
Him  increases  also  its  capacity  to  receive ;  and  this  increase 
will  again  react  on  the  faculties  of  recognition.  A  vision 
opens  out  of  spiritual  growth,  in  which  every  step  forward 
made  through  incoming  grace,  makes  a  new  step  possible, 
finds  a  fresh  grace  ever  waiting  to  crown  its  latest  gift  with 
ever  new  endowment.  The  sonship  that  is  at  work  under- 
ground in  man,  below  the  level  of  consciousness,  at  the  hidden 
base  of  faith,  is  one  that  holds  in  it  capacities  which  can  only 
be  evoked  under  the  appeals  of  a  living  and  voluntary  faith. 
Faith  is  the  discovery  of  an  inherent  sonship,  which,  though 
already  sealed  to  it,  already  in  action,  nevertheless  cannot  but 
withhold  its  more  rich  and  splendid  energies  until  this  dis- 
covery is  made ;  and  which  discloses  them  only  according  to 
the  progressive  clearness  and  force  with  which  the  process  oJ 
discovery  advances.  The  history  of  faith  is  the  history  o1 
this  gradual  disclosure,  this  growing  capacity  to  recognise  and 
receive,  until  the  rudimentary  omen  of  God's  fatherhood  in 
the  rudest  savage  who  draws,  by  clumsy  fetich,  or  weird  in- 
cantation, upon  a  power  outside  himself,  closes  its  long  story 

God  must  be  the  supreme  expression  present  and  visible  system  of  things, 
of  the  natural.    But  the  word  '  super-  '  It  is  this  point  of  arrest  which  is 

natural' is,  in  reality,  only  concerned  reached  and  revealed  by  the  process 

with  the  partial  and  conventional  use  of  Evolution,  under  the  pressure  of 

of  '  nature,'  as  a  term  under  which  Natural  Selection. 
we  sum  up  all  that  constitutes  this 

i.     Faith.  1 7 

in  the  absolute  recognition,  the  perfect  and  entire  receptivity, 
of  that  Son  of  man,  who  can  do  nothing  of  Himself,  '  but  what 
He  seeth  the  Father  do,'  and,  for  that  very  reason,  can  do 
everything :  for  whatsoever  '  the  Father  doeth,  the  Son  doeth 

Faith,  then,  is  not  only  the  recognition  by  man  of  the 
secret  source  of  his  being,  but  it  is  itself,  also,  the  condition 
under  which  the  powers,  that  issue  from  that  source,  make 
their  arrival  within  him.  The  sonship,  already  germinal, 
completes  itself,  realises  itself  in  man,  through  his  faith.  Not 
only  is  the  unconscious  human  nature  held  by  attachment  to 
the  Father  who  feeds  it  with  hidden  succours,  but  faith  is,  itself, 
the  power  by  which  the  conscious  life  attaches  itself  to  God  ; 
it  is  an  apprehensive  motion  of  the  living  spirit,  by  which  it 
intensifies  its  touch  on  God ;  it  is  an  instinct  of  surrender,  by 
which  it  gives  itself  to  the  fuller  handling  of  God :  it  is  an 
affection  of  the  will,  by  which  it  presses  up  against  God,  and 
drinks  in  divine  vitality  with  quickened  receptivity  1. 

What  then  will  be  its  characteristics'?  We  have  only  to 
keep  close  to  the  conception  of  sonship,  and  we  shall  under- 
stand them  well  enough.  Faith  is  the  attitude,  the  temper,  of 
a  son  towards  a  father.  That  is  a  relationship  that  we  all 
can  understand  for  ourselves.  We  know  it,  in  spite  of  all  the 
base  and  cruel  corruptions  under  which,  in  the  homes  of  man, 
its  beauty  lies  disfigured.  Still,  beneath  disguises,  we  catch 
sight,  in  rare  and  happy  conditions,  of  that  beautiful  intimacy 
which  can  spring  up  between  a  son  and  a  father,  where  love 
is  one  with  reverence,  and  duty  fulfils  itself  in  joy.  Such  a 
sonship  is  like  a  spiritual  instinct,  which  renders  intelligible 
to  the  son  every  mood  and  gesture  of  the  father.  His  very 
blood  moves  in  rhythm  to  the  father's  motives.  His  soul 
hangs,  for  guidance,  on  the  father's  eyes :  to  him,  each  motive 
of  the  father  justifies  itself  as  a  satisfying  inspiration.  The 
father's  will  is  felt  deliciously  encompassing  him  about ;  en- 
closed within  it,  his  own  will  works,  glad  and  free  in  its 
fortifying  obedience.  Such  a  relationship  as  this  needs  no 

1  Faith  is  spoken  of,  here  and  else-  as  if  unthwarted  by  the  misdirection, 
where,  in  its  perfect  and  true  form,  and  hurt  of  sin. 

1 8  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

justifying  sanction  beyond  itself:  it  is  its  own  sanction, 
its  own  authority,  its  own  justification.  '  He  is  my  father  ' : 
that  is  a  sufficient  reason  for  all  this  sympathetic  response 
to  another's  desire.  '  I  am  his  son '  :  that  is  the  final  pre- 
miss in  which  all  argument  comes  to  a  close.  The  willing 
surrender  of  the  heart  is  the  witness  to  a  fact  which  is 
beyond  argument,  which  accepts  no  denial,  yet  which  is  no 
tyrannous  fate,  but  is  a  living  and  animating  bond  of  blood, 
which  it  is  a  joy  to  recognise,  and  an  inspiration  to  confess. 

It  is  in  such  a  spirit  of  sonship  that  faith  reveals  and 
realises  itself.  Faith  is  that  temper  of  sympathetic  and 
immediate  response  to  Another's  will  which  belongs  to  a 
recognised  relationship  of  vital  communion.  It  is  the  spirit 
of  confident  surrender,  which  can  only  be  justified  by  an 
inner  identification  of  life.  Its  primary  note,  therefore,  will 
be  trust — that  trust  of  Another,  which  needs  no  ulterior 
grounds  on  which  to  base  itself,  beyond  what  is  involved  in 
the  inherent  law  of  this  life.  Faith  will  ever  discover,  when 
its  reason  for  action,  or  belief,  are  traced  to  their  last  source, 
that  it  arrives  at  a  point  where  its  only  and  all-sufficient 
plea  will  be  '  God  is  my  Father :  I  am  His  child.'  That 
relationship  is  its  root ;  on  the  top  of  that  relationship 
faith  works ;  as  a  witness  to  that  relationship,  it  puts  forth 
all  the  spiritual  temper  which,  of  necessity,  follows  on  this 
intimacy  of  contact. 

And,  here,  we  find  ourselves  in  the  presence  of  the  law  by 
which  faith  claims  to  be  universal.  Unless  this  inner  relation- 
ship be  a  fact,  faith  could  not  account  for  itself:  but  if  it  be  a 
fact,  it  must  constitute  a  fixed  and  necessary  demand  upon  all 
men.  All  are,  equally,  '  children  of  God ' :  and  the  answer  to 
the  question  'Why  should  I  believe1?'  must  be,  for  ever  and 
for  all,  valid  ;  '  because  you  are  a  child  of  God.'  Faith  is 
nothing  but  the  spiritual  temper  and  attitude,  which  belong, 
inherently,  to  such  a  fact.  No  one  can  escape  from  such  a 
claim:  for  his  existence  constitutes  the  claim.  If  he  be  a 
child,  it  must  be  demanded  of  him,  that  he  should  display  the 
characteristics  of  his  childhood:  the  father  must,  of  necessity, 
be  concerned  with  the  question  of  his  own  recognition  by  his 

i.     Faith.  1 9 

son.  Our  manhood  lies  in  this  essential  sonship :  and,  if  so, 
then  to  be  without  faith,  without  the  conscious  realisation  of  the 
sonship,  is  to  be  without  the  fulness  of  a  man's  proper  nature. 
It  is  to  be  inhuman :  to  be  curtailed  of  the  natural  develop- 
ment :  to  be  maimed  and  thwarted.  It  means  that  the  vital 
outcome  of  the  inner  verity  has  been  arrested  ;  that  the  sen- 
sitive perceptions  have  been  blunted  and  stunted ;  that  the 
sonship  in  us  has,  somehow,  lost  touch  with  its  true  fatherhood. 

We  learn  at  once,as  we  consider  this,  the  interpretation  of  that 
two-sided  character,  which  surprises  us  in  God's  dealings  with 
men  : — i.  e.  the  imperative  rigour  of  His  stated  requirements, 
coupled  with  His  wide  and  patient  tolerance,  in  actual  fact. 

As  a  Father  of  all,  He  cannot,  conceivably,  be  satisfied  with 
anything  short  of  complete  recognition  by  His  children.  He 
must  look  for  faith  ;  He  must  require  it  of  them  all :  He 
must  leave  no  means  untried  by  which  to  secure  it :  He  must 
seek  to  win  it  at  all  costs :  His  love  is  inevitably  and  cruelly 
hindered,  unless  He  can  obtain  it :  and  when  He  obtains  it, 
He  must  passionately  desire  to  establish,  evoke,  develope, 
perfect  it :  for  each  rise  in  faith  is  a  rise  in  capacities  of  inter- 
course, of  intimacy,  between  Father  and  son.  We  see  how 
strenuous  and  zealous  will  be  His  efforts  to  build  up  faith  in 
men :  we  understand  how  urgent,  and  pressing,  and  alarming 
will  become  His  entreaties,  His  warnings,  His  menaces, 
His  appeals,  if  faith  is  allowed  to  slide  or  fail.  Loss  of 
faith  means  a  shattered  home,  a  ruptured  intimacy,  a  sun- 
dered love  ;  it  means  that  a  Father  must  look  on  while  the 
very  nature  He  has  made  in  His  image  shrivels  and  shrinks, 
and  all  hope  of  growth,  of  advancing  familiarity,  of  increasing 
joy,  of  assured  sympathy,  is  cut  down  and  blighted.  We  all 
know  the  bitterness  of  a  breach  which  scatters  a  family  into 
fragments :  and  that  is  but  a  faint  shadow  of  all  which  the 
great  Father  sees  to  be  involved  in  the  broken  contact  between 
Himself  and  His  son.  What  standard  have  we  by  which  to 
sound  the  abyss  of  divine  disappointment,  as  God  waits  ready 
with  gift  upon  gift  of  endless  grace  which  He  will  pour  out 
upon  the  child  of  His  love,  as  the  endless  years  open  out  new 
wonders  of  advancing  intimacy ;  and  lo  !  the  channel  by 

C  2 

2O  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

which  alone  the  gifts  can  reach  him,  is  choked  and  closed? 
Faith  is  the  son's  receptivity :  it  is  that  temper  of  trust,  which 
makes  the  entry  of  succours  possible :  it  is  the  medium  of 
response :  it  is  the  attitude  of  adherence  to  the  Father,  by 
virtue  of  which  communications  can  pass.  If  faith  goes,  all 
further  action  of  God  upon  the  soul,  all  fresh  arrival  of  power, 
is  made  impossible.  The  channel  of  intercourse  is  blocked. 

The  demand,  then,  for  faith  by  God  is  bound  to  be  exacting, 
and  urgent,  and  universal.  But,  then,  this  demand  holds  in 
reserve  a  ground  of  hope,  of  patience,  of  tolerance,  of  charity, 
which  we  can,  in  no  single  instance,  venture  to  limit.  For 
the  faith,  which  it  rigorously  asks  for,  reposes,  as  we  see,  on 
an  inner  and  essential  relationship,  already  existent,  which 
knits  man  to  his  God.  Not  even  the  Fall,  with  all  its  con- 
sequent accumulations  of  sin,  can  avail  to  wholly  undo  this 
primitive  condition  of  existence.  The  fatherhood  of  God  still 
sustains  its  erring  children ;  the  divine  image  is  blurred,  but 
not  blotted  out.  Still,  at  the  close  of  the  long  days,  our  Lord 
can  speak  to  the  wondering  men  who  flock  about  Him,  of  One 
Who  is  even  now  their  Father  in  Heaven.  This  objective 
and  imperishable  relationship,  the  underlying  ground  of  all 
our  being,  is  the  pre- supposition  of  all  faith,  without  which  it 
would  itself  be  impossible.  And,  this  being  so,  God  can  afford 
to  wait  very  long  for  faith  to  show  itself.  So  long  as  its 
primary  condition  .is  there,  there  is  always  hope.  The  strin- 
gent demand  is  not  inspired  by  the  mind  of  a  lawgiver,  nor 
pressed  home  with  the  austerity  of  a  judge ;  it  expresses  the 
hunger  of  a  father's  heart,  to  win  the  confidence  and  to  evoke 
the  capacities  of  the  children  of  its  love.  Such  a  hunger  is, 
indeed,  more  rigorous  and  exact  than  the  letter  of  any  law : 
it  aspires  after  a  more  accurate  correspondence ;  it  is  sensitive 
to  more  delicate  distinctions :  but,  nevertheless,  it  holds,  in 
its  fatherliness,  far  wider  capacities  of  toleration  than  law- 
giver, or  judge.  That  same  heart  of  the  father,  which  in  its 
hunger  of  love  is  so  exacting,  will,  out  of  the  same  hunger, 
never  despair,  and  never  forsake :  it  will  never  cease  from 
the  pursuit  of  that  responsive  trust  which  it  desires ;  it 
will  make  allowances,  it  will  permit  delays,  it  will  weave 

i.     Faith.  2 1 

excuses,  it  will  endure  rebuffs,  it  will  condescend  to  per- 
suasion, it  will  forget  all  provocations,  it  will  wait,  it  will 
plead,  it  will  repeat  its  pleas,  it  will  take  no  refusal,  it  will 
overleap  all  obstacles,  it  will  run  risks,  it  will  endlessly  and 
untiringly  forgive,  if  only,  at  the  last,  the  stubborn  child- 
heart  yield,  and  the  tender  response  of  faith  be  won. 

Here,  then,  wTe  seem  to  see  why  the  nature  of  faith  allows 
for  two  points  which  surprise  us  in  God's  dealings,  as  if  with 
a  contradiction.  On  the  one  hand,  we  hear  Him,  though  pro- 
phet and  priest,  insisting,  with  severe  precision,  on  the  neces- 
sity of  a  right  and  accurate  faith.  On  the  other,  we  cannot 
but  recognise,  in  the  open  area  of  actual  life,  the  evidences  of 
a  wide  and  almost  boundless  toleration.  Again  and  again  it 
must  have  seemed  to  us  that  the  Church  and  the  world  gave, 
thus,  antithetical  evidence  of  God's  character.  Yet,  in  truth, 
both  speak  the  voice  of  one  and  the  same  God,  Who,  in  His 
undivided  love,  both  passionately  seeks  for  the  delicate  and 
direct  response  of  an  accurate  faith ;  and,  also,  in  order  not 
to  lose  this  final  joy,  '  suffereth  long,  and  is  kind,  beareth  all 
things,  believeth  all  things,  hopeth  all  things,  endureth  all 
things.'  Yes ! — has  even  to  endure  that  men  should  pit  His 
toleration  against  His  love,  and  should  argue  that,  because 
He  will  wait  so  long  and  quietly  for  the  fruit  that  He  desires 
to  reap,  therefore,  He  does  not  desire  the  fruit.  In  reality, 
the  degree  of  the  toleration,  with  which  God  will  patiently 
wait  for  the  fruits  of  faith,  is  the  measure  of  the  extremity  of 
His  desire  for  it.  Just  because  He  wants  it  so  much,  He 
wraits  so  long. 

III.  If  faith,  then,  be  the  witness  and  the  exercise  of  our 
sonship  in  God,  we  can  recognise  at  once  the  place  it  will  hold 
among  the  other  powers  and  capacities  of  our  nature.  We 
are  so  unfortunately  apt  to  rank  it  as  one  among  many 
faculties,  and  then  to  find  ourselves  engaged  in  agitating  con- 
troversies concerning  its  limits  and  its  claims.  We  have  to 
secure  for  it,  against  the  rest,  a  field  for  free  dominion ;  and 
that  field  is  hard  to  define ;  and  rival  powers  beset  it ;  and 
there  are  raids  and  skirmishes  on  every  frontier ;  and  reason 
is  ever  making  violent  incursions  on  the  one  side,  and  feel- 

22  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

ing  is  actively  besieging  it  on  the  other :  and  the  scientific 
frontiers,  which  we  are  ever  on  the  point  of  fixing,  shift, 
and  change,  and  vanish,  as  soon  as  we  determine  them ;  and 
the  whole  force  of  Christian  apologetics  is  spent  in  aimless 
and  barren  border- warfare. 

But,  if  what  we  have  been  saying  be  true,  the  whole  trouble 
turns  on  a  mistake.  Faith  is  not  to  be  ranked  by  the  side 
ojLthe  other  faculties  in  a  federation  of  rival  powers,  but  is 
behind  them  all.  It  goes  back  to  a  deeper  root ;  it  springs 
from  a  more  primitive  and  radical  act  of  the  central  self  than 
they.  It  belongs  to  that  original  spot  of  our  being,  where  it 
adheres  in  God,  and  draws  on  divine  resources.  Out  from 
that  spot  our  powers  divide,  radiating  into  separate  gifts, — 
will,  memory,  feeling,  reason,  imagination,  affection  ;  but  all  of 
them  are  but  varying  expressions  of  that  essential  sonship, 
which  is  their  base.  And  all,  therefore,  run  back  into  that 
home  where  faith  abides,  and  works,  and  rises,  and  expands. 
At  the  root  of  all  our  capacities  lies  our  sonship ;  at  the  root 
of  all  our  conscious  life  lies  faith,  the  witness  of  our  sonship. 
By  adherence  in  God,  we  put  out  our  gifts,  we  exercise  our 
functions,  we  develop  our  faculties ;  and  faith,  therefore,  far 
from  being  their  rival,  whom  they  are  interested  in  suspect- 
ing, and  curbing,  and  confining  within  its  limits,  is  the  secret 
spring  of  their  force,  and  the  inspiration  of  their  growth,  and 
the  assurance  of  their  success.  All  our  knowledge,  for  in- 
stance, relies  upon  our  sonship  ;  it  starts  with  an  act  of  faith 1. 
We  throw  ourselves,  with  the  confidence  of  children,  upon  an 
external  world,  which  offers  itself  to  our  vision,  to  our  touch, 
to  our  review,  to  our  calculation,  to  our  handling,  to  our  use. 
Who  can  assure  us  of  its  reality,  of  its  truth?  We  must 
measure  it  by  those  faculties  under  the  manipulation  of  which 
it  falls :  but  how  can  the  faculties  guarantee  to  us  their  own 
accuracy?  How  can  we  justify  an  extension  of  our  own  inner 
necessities  to  the  world  of  outward  things  ?  How  can  we  at- 
tribute to  nature  that  rational  and  causative  existence  which 
we  find  ourselves  forced  to  assume  in  it?  Our  justification, 
our  confidence,  all  issue,  in  the  last  resort,  from  our  sonship. 
1  Cf.  pp.  105-107. 

i.     Faith.  23 

Our  powers  have,  in  them,  some  likeness  to  those  of  God. 
If  He  be  our  Father,  if  we  be  made  in  His  image,  then,  in  our 
measure,  we  can  rely  upon  it  that  we  close  with  Nature  in 
its  reality ;  that  our  touch,  our  sight,  our  reason,  have  some 
hold  on  the  actual  life  of  things ;  that  we  see  and  know  in 
some  such  manner,  after  our  degree,  as  God  Himself  sees 
and  knows.  In  unhesitating  reliance  upon  our  true  sonship, 
we  sally  out  and  deal,  with  the  world ;  we  act  upon  the  sure 
conviction  that  we  are  not  altogether  outside  the  secret  of 
objective  existence.  We  refuse  absolutely  to  doubt,  or  go 
behind  the  reports  made  to  us  by  feeling,  by  memory,  by 
thought.  If  once  we  are  clear  as  to  what  the  report  is,  we 
rest  on  it ;  we  ask  for  no  power  to  stand  (as  it  were)  outside 
our  own  experience,  our  own  knowledge,  so  as  to  assure  our- 
selves of  their  veracity.  We  are  certain  that  our  Father 
cannot  have  misguided  us  ;  that  we  are  within  His  influence  ; 
that  we  are  in  modified  possession  of  His  truth;  that  our 
capacities  reflect  His  mind.  We  could  not  have  so  confidently 
recognised,  understood,  and  handled  the  world,  if  it  had  been 
wholly  foreign  to  us.  As  it  is,  we  lay  instinctive  hold  upon 
it ;  we  take  spontaneous  possession  ;  we  exert  authority  upon 
it ;  we  feel  our  inherent  right  over  it ;  we  are  at  home  in  it ; 
we  move  freely  about  it,  as  children  in  a  father's  house. 
Acting  in  this  faith,  all  our  capacities  justify  themselves  to 
us ;  they  respond  to  our  reliance  upon  them ;  they  develop 
into  ever  advancing  strength  under  the  motions  of  this  trust ; 
they  form  a  continual  and  increasing  witness  to  the  verity  of 
that  sonship  in  which  we  have  believed. 

Faith,  then,  belongs  to  our  entire  body  of  activities.  We 
live  by  faith.  By  faith,  under  the  inspiration  of  faith,  we  put 
out  our  life,  we  set  to  work,  we  exercise  faculties,  we  close 
with  our  opportunities,  we  have  confidence  in  our  environ- 
ment, we  respond  to  calls,  we  handle  critical  emergencies,  we 
send  out  far  abroad  our  experimental  intelligence,  we  discover, 
we  accumulate  experiences,  we  build,  and  plant,  and  develop. 
An  elemental  act  of  faith  lies  at  the  root  of  all  this  advance  ; 
and  every  motion  that  we  make,  demands  a  renewal  of  that 
primitive  venture.  In  all  secular  progress  '  we  walk  by  faith.' 

24  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

Every  step  revives  the  demand.  Just  as  the  earth,  if  it  neces- 
sitates the  idea  of  a  primal  creation,  requires,  by  exactly  the 
same  necessity,  an  incessant  renewal  of  that  first  creative 
act,  so  our  life,  if  it  required  faith  to  start  it,  requires  faith 
every  moment  to  sustain  it.  Our  faculties  never  arrive  at  a 
use  which  is  self-dependent  and  self-originated,  as  if  they 
could  grow  beyond  the  tentative  conditions  of  their  earliest 
assays.  They  originate  in  a  venturous  experiment ;  and,  how- 
ever long,  and  however  complicated  that  experiment  become, 
it  retains  its  original  character ;  it  remains  experimental  to 
the  end.  The  results,  no  doubt,  justify  the  venture  made  ;  but, 
then,  the  first  venture  involved  such  immense  assumptions, 
that  no  results  reached  can  ever  complete  its  justification, 
and  so  remove  its  tentative  nature.  For,  by  assuming  a  real 
correspondence  between  our  faculties  and  the  world  with 
which  they  deal,  it  assumed  that  such  a  correspondence  would 
never  fail  us  ;  would  be  capable  of  infinite  verification  ;  would 
prove  adequate  to  all  possible  experiences ;  would  receive 
indefinite  and  progressive  extension.  No  verifications  ever 
reached  can,  then,  exhaust  the  faith  of  that  primitive  venture  ; 
they  can  only  serve  to  exhibit  to  it  how  far  more  was  con- 
tained within  that  venture  than  it  could  ever  have,  conceived. 
New  knowledge,  new  experience,  far  from  expunging  the 
elements  of  faith,  make  ever  fresh  demands  upon  it;  they 
constitute  perpetual  appeals  to  it  to  enlarge  its  trust,  to 
expand  its  original  audacity.  And  yet  the  very  vastness 
of  those  demands  serves  to  obscure  and  conceal  their  true 
character.  This  is  the  key  to  much  of  our  present  bewilder- 
ment. The  worlds  of  knowledge  and  of  action  have  assumed 
such  huge  proportions,  have  accumulated  such  immense  and 
complicated  resources,  have  gained  such  supreme  confidence 
in  their  own  stability,  have  pushed  forward  their  successes 
with  such  startling  power  and  rapidity,  that  we  have  lost 
count  of  their  primal  assumption.  In  amazement  at  their 
stupendous  range,  we  are  over-awed ;  we  dare  not  challenge 
them  with  their  hypothetical  origin,  or  remind  them  that 
their  entire  and  wonderful  structure  is  but  an  empty  and 
hollow  dream,  unless  they  are  prepared  to  place  their  utter- 

I.     Faith.  25 

most  trust  in  an  unverified  act  of  faith.  Given  that  trust, 
which  relies  on  the  reality  of  the  bond  which  holds  between 
our  inner  faculties  and  the  outer  world,  then  all  this  mar- 
vellous vision  is  rooted  on  a  rock,  has  validity  and  substance. 
Withdraw  that  spiritual  trust  in  our  sonship,  and  all  this 
fairy- world,  won  for  us  by  science  and  experience, 

These  cloud-capped  towers,  these  gorgeous  palaces, 
The  solemn  temples,  the  great  globe  itself, 
Yea,  all  which  it  inherit,  shall  dissolve, 
And,  like  an  unsubstantial  pageant  faded, 
Leave  not  a  rack  behind. 

Our  secular  and  scientific  life  is  an  immense  experiment  in 
faith, — an  experiment  which  verifies  itself  by  success,  but 
which  justifies  itself  only  if  it  remembers  to  attribute  all  its 
success  to  the  reality  of  that  hidden  relationship  to  God,  which 
is  the  key  to  all  its  capacities,  the  justification  of  all  its 
confidence,  and  the  security  of  all  its  advance. 

Such  a  remembrance  is  not  easy  for  it :  for  the  exercise  of 
the  capacities  is  instinctive  and  spontaneous,  and  it  requires 
an  effort  of  reflection  to  question  the  validity  of  such 
exercise.  And  such  an  effort  seems  tiresome  and  impertinent 
in  the  heat  of  successful  progress,  in  the  thick  of  crowding 
conquests.  The  practical  man  is  apt  to  give  an  irritated 
stamp  on  the  ground,  which  to  him  feels  so  solid,  and  to  deem 
this  a  sufficient  answer  to  the  importunate  inquiry  how  he 
knows  that  he  has  any  substantial  world  to  know  and  to 
handle.  For  faith  lies  behind  our  secular  life,  secreted  within 
it :  and  the  secular  lift,  therefore,  can  go  on  as  if  no  faith  was 
wanted ;  it  need  not  trouble  its  head  with  perplexing  questions, 
whether  its  base  be  verifiable  by  the  same  standards  and  mea- 
sures as  its  superstructure.  Its  own  practical  activity  is 
complete  and  free,  whether  it  discover  its  hidden  principle  or 
not :  just  as  Mr.  Jourdain's  conversation  was  complete  and 
free,  long  before  he  discovered  that  he  was  talking  prose. 
We  have  to  stand  outside  our  secular  life  and  reflect  on  it,  to 
disclose  its  true  spring.  The  appeal  to  faith  here  is  indirect. 

But,  in  religion,  this  hidden  activity  is  evoked  by  a  direct 
appeal :  it  is  unearthed  ;  it  is  summoned  to  come  forward  on 
its  own  account.  God  demands  of  this  secret  and  innermost 


26  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

vitality  that  it  should  no  longer  lie  incased  within  the  other 
capacities,  but  that  it  should  throw  off  its  sheltering  covers, 
and  should  emerge  into  positive  action,  and  should  disclose  its 
peculiar  and  native  character.  God,  the  Father,  calls  faith 
out  of  its  dim  background  into  the  front  of  the  scene.  He 
does  this  under  the  pressure  of  invocations,  which  address 
their  appeals  through,  and  by  means  of,  the  secular  and  visible 
material,  within  and  behind  which  He  is  ever  at  work.  This 
had,  indeed,  always  told  of  His  invisible  and  eternal  Godhead: 
but  it  did  so  indirectly,  by  requiring  Him  as  its  constant 
pre-supposition  and  base.  Now,  it  is  so  used  as  to  bring 
God  into  direct  and  positive  evidence,  by  means  of  acts,  which 
bring  forward  the  energies  of  His  immediate  Fatherhood.  All 
the  growth  of  Eden  had  always  testified  to  the  existence  and 
the  name  of  God  :  but  a  new  stage  was  reached  when  He  was 
felt  moving,  in  evening  hours,  amid  the  trees  of  the  garden. 
And  as  the  Father  presses  forward  out  of  His  silent  background, 
so  the  secret  sonship  in  man  emerges  out  of  its  deep  recesses 
in  positive  response,  using  its  own  secular  faculties  by  which 
to  carry  itself  forward  into  evidence  and  action.  This  definite 
and  direct  contact  between  the  God  Who  is  the  hidden  source 
of  all  life,  and  the  faith  which  is  the  hidden  spring  of  all 
human  activity — this  disclosure  by  the  Father,  met  by  this 
discovery  by  the  son — this  is  Religion :  and  the  history  of 
Religion  is  the  story  of  its  slow  and  gradual  advance  in  sanity 
and  clearness,  until  it  culminates  in  that  special  disclosure 
which  we  call  Revelation ;  which,  again,  crowns  itself  in  that 
Revelation  of  the  Father  through  the  Son,  in  which  the  dis- 
closure of  God  to  man  and  the  discovery  by  man  of  God  are 
made  absolute  in  Him  Who  is  one  with  the  Father,  knowing 
all  that  the  Father  does,  making  known  all  that  the  Father  is. 
Now  here  we  have  reached  a  parting  of  ways.  For  we 
have  touched  the  point  at  which  the  distinctions  start  out 
between  what  is  secular  and  what  is  sacred — between  virtue 
and  godliness — between  the  world  and  the  Church.  If  '  Re- 
ligion '  means  this  coming  forward  into  the  foreground  of  that 
which  is  the  universal  background  of  all  existence,  then 
we  cut  ourselves  free  from  the  perplexity  which  benumbs 

i.     Faith.  2  7 

us  when  we  hear  of  the  '  Gospel  of  the  Secular  Life ; '  of 
the  '  Religion  of  Humanity ; '  of  doctors  and  scientific  pro- 
fessors being  '  Ministers  of  Religion ;'  of  the  '  Natural  Religion ' 
which  is  contained  within  the  borders  of  science  with  its  sense 
of  wonder,  or  of  art  with  its  vision  of  beauty.  All  this  is  so 
obviously  true  in  one  sense  that  it  sinks  to  the  level  of  an 
amiable  commonplace  ;  but  if  this  be  the  sense  intended,  why 
is  all  this  emphasis  laid  upon  it  1  Yet  if  more  than  this  is 
meant,  we  are  caught  in  a  juggling  maze  of  words,  and  are 
losing  hold  on  vital  distinctions,  and  feel  ourselves  to  be 


rapidly  collapsing  into  the  condition  of  the  unhappy  Ninevites, 
who  knew  not  their  right  hands  from  their  left. 

The  word  '  Religion,'  after  all,  has  a  meaning :  and  we  do 
not  get  forward  by  labouring  to  disguise  from  ourselves  this 
awkward  fact.  This  positive  meaning  allows  everything  that 
can  be  asked  in  the  way  of  sanctity  and  worth,  for  nature 
and  the  natural  life.  All  of  it  is  God-given,  God-inspired, 
God-directed ;  all  of  it  is  holy.  But  the  foot  of  this  being  so 
is  one  thing:  the  recognition  of  it  is  another;  and  it  is  this 
recognition  of  God  in  things  which  is  the  core  and  essence 
of  religion.  Natural  life  is  the  life  in  God,  which  has  not  yet 
arrived  at  this  recognition:  it  is  not  yet,  as  such,  religious. 
The  sacred  and  supernatural  office  of  man  is  to  press  through 
his  own  natural  environment,  to  force  his  spirit  through  the 
thick  jungle  of  his  manifold  activities  and  capacities,  to  shake 
himself  free  from  the  encompassing  complexities,  to  step  out 
clear  and  loose  from  all  entanglement,  to  find  himself,  through 
and  beyond  all  his  secular  experiences,  face  to  face  with  a 
God,  Who,  on  His  side,  is  for  ever  pushing  aside  the  veil  which 
suggests  and  conceals  Him,  for  ever  disengaging  Himself  from 
the  phenomena  through  which  He  arrives  at  man's  con- 
sciousness, for  ever  brushing  away  the  confusions,  and  coming 
out  more  and  more  into  the  open,  until,  through  and  past  the 
'  thunder  comes  a  human  voice  ; '  and  His  eyes  burn  their  way 
through  into  man's  soul;  and  He  calls  the  man  by  his  name,  and 
takes  him  apart,  and  hides  him  in  some  high  and  separate  cleft 
of  the  rock,  far  from  all  the  glamour  and  tumult  of  crowded 
existence,  and  holds  him  close  in  the  hollow  of  His  hand  as 

28  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

He  passes  by,  and  names  to  him,  with  clear  and  memorable 
voice,  the  'Name  of  the  Lord,  the  Lord  God,  merciful,  gracious, 
long-suffering,  abundant  in  goodness  and  truth,  forgiving 
iniquity,  and  Who  will  by  no  means  clear  the  guilty.'  Here 
is  Religion.  It  is  the  arrival  at  the  secret ;  the  discovery  by 
the  son  of  a  Father,  Who  is  in  all  His  works,  yet  is  distinct 
from  them  all, — to  be  recognised,  known,  spoken  with,  loved, 
imitated,  worshipped,  on  His  own  account,  and  for  Himself 

Religion,  in  this  sense,  is  perfectly  distinct  from  what  is 
secular :  yet,  in  making  this  distinction,  it  brings  no  reproach  : 
it  pronounces  nothing  common  or  unclean.  It  only  asks  us  not 
to  play  with  words  :  and  it  reminds  us  that,  in  blurring  this 
radical  distinction,  we  are  undoing  all  the  work  which  it  has 
been  the  aim  of  the  religious  movement  to  achieve.  For  the 
history  of  this  movement  is  the  record  of  the  gradual  advance 
man  has  made  in  disentangling  '  the  Name  of  God '  from  all 
its  manifestations.  Religion  is  the  effort  to  arrive  at  that 
Name,  in  its  separable  identity,  in  its  personal  and  distinct 
significance.  It  is  the  fulfilment  of  the  unceasing  cry  '  Tell 
me  Thy  name ! '  In  religion  we  are  engaged  in  the  age-long 
task  of  lifting  the  Name,  clear  and  high,  above  the  clang 
and  roar  of  its  works,  that  through  and  by  means  of  all  that 
He  is,  we  may  pierce  through  to  the  very  God  of  gods,  and 
may  close  with  Him  in  the  blessed  solitude  of  a  love  which 
knits  heart  to  heart  and  spirit  to  spirit,  without  any  with- 
holding interval,  with  no  veil  to  hinder  or  intervene. 

The  growth  of  faith,  then,  means  the  gradual  increase  of 
this  personal  contact,  this  spiritual  intimacy  between  Father 
and  son.  To  achieve  this  increasing  apprehension  of  the 
Father's  character  and  love,  faith  uses,  as  instruments  and  as 
channels,  all  its  natural  faculties,  by  which  to  bring  itself 
forward  into  action,  and  through  which  to  receive  the  com- 
munications, which  arrive  at  it  from  the  heart  and  will  of 
Him,  Who,  on  His  side,  uses  all  natural  opportunities  as  the 
material  of  a  speech,  which  is  ever,  as  man's  ear  becomes 
sensitive  and  alert,  growing  more  articulate,  and  positive, 
and  personal. 

I.     Faith.  29 

The  entire  human  nature, — imagination,  reason,  feeling,  de- 
sire,— becomes  to  faith  a  vehicle  of  intercourse,  a  mediating  aid 
in  its  friendship  with  God.  But  faith  itself  lies  deeper  than 
all  the  capacities  of  which  it  makes  use  :  it  is,  itself,  the  primal 
act  of  the  elemental  self,  there  at  the  root  of  life,  where  the 
being  is  yet  whole  and  entire,  a  single  personal  individuality, 
unbroken  and  undivided.  Faith,  which  is  the  germinal  act  of 
our  love  for  God,  is  an  act  of  the  whole  self,  there  where  it 
is  one,  before  it  has  parted  off  into  what  we  can  roughly  de- 
scribe as  separate  and  distinguishable  faculties.  It  therefore 
uses,  not  one  or  other  of  the  faculties,  but  all :  and  in  a  sense 
it  uses  them  all  at  once,  just  as  any  complete  motion  of  will, 
or  of  love,  acts  with  all  the  united  force  of  many  combined 
faculties.  A  perfect  act  of  love  would  combine,  into  a  single 
movement,  the  entire  sum  of  faculties,  just  because  it  proceeds 
from  that  basal  self,  which  is  the  substance  and  unity  of  them 
all.  So  with  faith.  Faith,  the  act  of  a  willing  adhesion  to 
God  the  Father,  proceeds  from  a  source  deeper  than  the  point 
at  which  faculties  divide. 

And  this  has  a  most  vital  bearing  on  the  question  of  faith's 
evidences.  It  is  here  we  touch  on  the  crucial  characteristic 
which  determines  all  our  logical  and  argumentative  position. 

For,  if  a  movement  of  faith  springs  from  a  source  anterior 
to  the  distinct  division  of  faculties,  then  no  one  faculty  can 
adequately  account  for  the  resultant  action.  Each  faculty, 
in  its  separate  stage,  can  account  for  one  element,  for  one 
factor,  which  contributed  to  the  result :  and  that  element,  that 
factor,  may  be  of  greater  or  less  importance,  according  to  the 
rank  of  the  faculty  in  the  entire  self.  But,  if  the  movement 
of  faith  has  also  included  and  involved  many  other  elements 
which  appear,  when  analysed  out,  in  the  domains  of  the  other 
faculties ;  then  the  account  which  each  separate  faculty  can 
give  of  the  whole  act,  can  never  be  more  than  partial.  Its 
evidence  must  be  incomplete.  If  the  central  self  has  gathered 
its  momentum  from  many  channels,  it  is  obvious  that  the 
amount  contributed  by  any  one  channel  will  be  unable  to 
justify  the  force  exerted,  or  to  explain  the  event  that  fol- 
lowed. If  we  track  home  each  faculty  employed  to  this 

30  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

central  spring  of  energy,  we  shall  see  that  each  points  to  the 
result,  contributes  to  it,  suggests  it ;  but  the  result  will 
always  be  more  than  the  evidence,  so  collected,  can  warrant. 

This  limitation,  which  we  may  allow  about  other  faculties, 
is  apt  to  become  a  stumbling-block  when  we  apply  it  to  the 
high  gift  of  reason.  Reason,  somehow,  seems  to  us  to  rise 
into  some  supreme  and  independent  throne ;  it  reviews  the 
other  faculties ;  and  is,  therefore,  free  from  their  limitations. 
We  fear  to  hint  that  it  has  any  lord  over  it.  How  can  we 
assume  such  a  lordship  without  dubbing  ourselves  irrational 
obscurantists,  who  in  folly  try  to  stamp  out  the  light  ? 

But  we  are  not,  in  reality,  dreaming  of  limiting  reason  by 
any  limitations  except  those  which  it  makes  for  itself.  We 
are  not  violently  attempting  to  make  reason  stop  short  at  any 
point,  where  it  could  go  on.  We  are  only  asking,  is  there 
any  point  at  which  it  stops  of  itself,  and  cannot  go  further  ? 
We  propose  to  use  reason  right  out,  to  press  it  to  its  utmost 
limit,  to  spur  it  to  put  forth  all  its  powers  ;  and  we  assert  that, 
so  doing,  reason  will,  at  last,  reveal  its  inability  to  get  right 
to  the  end,  to  carry  clear  home.  And  why  ?  Because  the  self 
is  not  only  rational  but  something  more  :  it  combines,  with  its 
unbroken,  central  individuality,  other  elements  besides  reason  : 
and  therefore,  of  sheer  necessity,  whenever  that  central  self 
puts  out  an  elemental  act  in  which  the  integral  spring  of 
personal  energy  takes  part, — such  as  an  act  of  will,  or  love,  or 
faith, — then,  reason  can  be  but  one  factor,  but  one  element,  how- 
ever important,  in  that  issuing  act :  and  if  so,  then  it  can  give 
but  a  partial  account  of  it ;  its  own  contribution  can  not  wholly 
explain,  or  justify  the  result.  In  Bishop  Butler's  language, 
the  utmost  that  reason  can  do  is  to  make  it  '  very  probable.' 

The  real  root-question  in  this  time-worn  controversy  is 
just  this:  is,  or  is  not,  reason  the  most  primal  and  elemental 
act  of  the  integral  personality  ?  If  it  is,  then,  of  course,  it 
regulates  and  determines  all  subordinate  acts.  Everything 
must  finally  submit  to  its  arbitration :  for  everything,  if 
tracked  back  far  enough,  must  terminate  in  an  act  of  reason. 

But  if,  as  Christianity  asserts,  the  ultimate  and  elemental 
self  be  a  moral  will,  that  can  believe,  and  love,  then,  though 

I.     Faith.  3 1 

this  self  contains  in  it  reason,  it  also  goes  back  behind  reason. 
Reason  is  indeed  one  of  its  essential  elements,  but  it  is  not 
its  entire  essence,  for  this  includes  within  itself,  that  which 
appears  as  feeling,  and  desire,  and  imagination,  and  choice, 
and  passion,  as  well  as  that  which  shows  itself  as  reason.  When, 
therefore,  the  self  puts  out  its  primitive  power,  it  will  do 
actions  which  satisfy  reason,  indeed,  but  which  reason  cannot 
exhaustively  analyse,  or  interpret,  since  the  entire  force  of 
reason,  if  it  were  all  brought  into  action,  would  still  be  only 
a  partial  contribution  to  the  effect. 

As  a  fact,  we  all  of  us  are  perfectly  familiar  with  this  limi- 
tation, in  affairs  of  affection  and  friendship.  We  never  have 
here  that  paralysing  awe  of  reason,  which  haunts  us  in 
matters  of  religion.  We  never  allow  ourselves  to  be  bullied 
into  submission  to  its  supremacy.  WTe  should  laugh  at  it,  if 
it  attempted  to  dictate  to  us  ;  or  to  account  for  all  our  motives. 
Not  that  we  are  at  war  with  it :  or  are  shirking  it :  or  are 
afraid  of  it.  We  can  have  affections  and  friendships,  which 
have  every  possible  justification  which  reason  can  offer. 
Every  conceivable  expediency  can  unite  to  authorise  and 
approve  them.  Every  interest  may  be  served  by  them.  They 
may  stand  every  test  which  a  cool  common-sense,  or  a  calm 
impartial  judgment,  or  an  acute  calculation  of  consequences 
can  apply  to  them.  They  may  be  the  very  embodiment  of 
reason.  And  yet,  by  no  amount  of  calculated  expediencies, 
by  no  pressure  of  rational  considerations,  could  we  dream,  for 
one  moment,  that  our  friendship  was  accounted  for.  If  ever 
it  could  trace  its  origin  to  these  motives,  it  would  cease  to  be 
what  we  thought  it.  The  discovery  would  destroy  it.  All 
possible  considerations  and  calculations  might  have  been 
present,  and  yet  they  would  be  utterly  powerless  to  create 
in  us  the  love.  And  the  love,  however  gladly  it  may  recognise 
the  approving  considerations,  would  repudiate,  with  amaze- 
ment, and  with  laughter,  any  presumption  on  their  part  to 
say,  '  this  is  why  you  love.' 

It  is  the  same  with  all  primal  acts  of  heroism.  They  may  be 
absolutely  rational :  yet,  they  would  cease  to  be  heroic,  they 
would  never  be  done,  if  they  did  not  call  upon  a  force,  which, 

32  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

indeed,  may  determine  its  direction  by  reason,  but  which  uses 
quite  other  motives  to  induce  itself  to  act.  Utilitarianism, 
which  attempts  to  account  for  such  heroic  momentum  by 
purely  rational  considerations,  finds  itself  reduced  to  shifts 
which  all  those  can  see  through,  who  refuse  to  be  juggled 
out  of  their  own  experiences.  It  is  the  same  with  all 
the  higher  forms  of  moral  energy.  All  of  them  go  beyond 
their  evidences.  They  all  lift  the  rational  motives,  which 
suggest  and  determine  the  direction  of  their  activity,  by 
an  impulsive  force,  which  has  in  it  the  power  of  initiative, 
of  origination.  Every  high  act  of  will  is  a  new  creation. 
As  the  gunpowder  sleeps,  until  the  spark  alights  upon  it,  so  the 
directions  of  reason  remain  below  the  level  of  action,  until  the 
jet  of  a  living  will  fuses  its  fire  with  their  material.  The  act 
which  results  may,  indeed,  be  capable  of  complete  interpreta- 
tion on  reasonable  grounds :  it  may  be  able  to  show  reasons 
which  account  for  every  fragment  of  it :  yet,  still,  the  living 
force  which  drew  together,  and  combined  all  those  separate 
reasons  into  a  single  resultant  act,  has  a  creative  and  original 
character.  The  series  of  reasons,  however  complete,  cannot 
account  for  the  result,  for  they  cannot  possibly  account  for 
their  own  combination:  and  without  this  combination  of 
their  momentum  the  result  would  not  be  there. 

It  is  well  to  recall  briefly  this  character  of  the  moral  will, 
the  affections,  the  love,  of  man.  For  these  are  faith's  nearest 
and  dearest  allies.  It  is  here,  in  these  elemental  motions,  that 
faith  finds  its  closest  parallel.  It  is  something  very  like  an 
act  of  will,  a  movement  of  love,  an  heroic  and  chivalrous 
moral  venture.  And  whenever  we  desire  to  understand  its 
relations  to  reason,  we  must  persistently  recall  the  attitude 
towards  reason  taken  by  these  fundamental  forms  of  energy  ; 
only  remembering  that  faith  is  yet  more  elemental,  yet  more 
completely  the  act  of  the  central  integral  self,  even  than 
these.  Where  they  leave  reason  behind,  it  will  do  so  yet 
further.  Where  they  call  upon  something  deeper,  and  more 
primitive  than  reason,  it  will  do  the  same,  and  yet  more 
triumphantly.  It  is  not  that  either  it  or  they  are  without 
reason :  or  that  they  stand  outside  reason,  consulting  it  so  far 

i.     Faith.  33 

as  they  choose,  and  then  dropping  it ;  it  is  not  that  reason 
rnay  not  be  found  in  every  corner  and  fragment  of  their 
activity,  pervading,  colouring,  restraining,  limiting,  directing, 
justifying  it :  but  simply  that  what  we  call  the  rational  self  is 
not  only  rational,  but  also  something  more  :  that,  if  analysed 
out,  the  reason  will  not  appear  as  the  root  and  core  of 
the  man,  but  rather  as  an  element  inhering  in  a  yet  more 
central  base:  and  that  whenever  the  energy  of  vital  action 
is  put  out,  we  are  driven  to  look  through  and  beyond  reason, 
if  we  would  unearth  the  source  whence  the  act  springs. 

The  relation,  then,  of  reason  to  faith  is  not  strange,  or  forced, 
or  unfamiliar  to  us,  if  it  is  much  the  same  as  its  relation  to  the 
affections,  or  to  moral  acts  and  intuitions.  We  know  what  to 
expect,  what  part  it  ought  to  play  in  such  a  case.  As  in  a  case 
of  heroic  moral  daring,  or  high  affection,  so,  in  a  matter  of  faith, 
we  shall  expect  that  reason,  with  its  arguments  and  its 
evidences,  will  play  all  round  and  about  it,  will  go  before  it, 
discussing  the  path  to  follow,  will  follow  after  it,  unravelling 
the  secret  forces  at  work  in  it :  will  watch,  and  analyse,  and 
learn,  and  warn ;  will  reconnoitre,  and  examine,  and  survey, 
and  discover:  will  justify,  interpret,  defend,  assist.  But  yet 
we  shall  expect,  also,  that  the  act  of  faith  will  do  more  than 
all  the  arguments  can  anticipate :  that  it  will  hold  itself  free 
from  them  all :  that  it  will  appeal,  not  to  them,  but  to  its 
own  inherent  force,  for  the  final  decision :  that  it  will  move 
by  instinct,  by  spontaneity,  by  inspiration :  that  it  will  rush 
past  all  evidences,  in  some  great  stride ;  that  it  will  brush 
through  scruples  that  cannot  be  gainsaid,  and  obstacles  that 
cannot  be  got  over ;  that  it  will  surprise,  that  it  will  outdo, 
that  it  will  create ;  that  it  will  bring  novel  forces  into  play, 
invisible,  unaccountable,  incalculable  ;  that  it  will  fly,  when 
reason  walks  ;  that  it  will  laugh,  when  reason  trembles  :  that 
it  will  over-leap  barriers  which  reason  deems  final.  As  with 
love,  so  with  faith,  it  will  take  in  all  evidences,  it  will  listen 
to  all  proofs ;  but  when  they  have  done  their  utmost,  it  has 
yet  got  to  begin  ;  it  itself,  after  all  its  calculations,  must  make 
the  actual  spring,  which  is  the  decision.  Out  of  itself,  it  draws 
its  strength :  out  of  itself  it  makes  its  effort ;  by  being  what  it  is, 

34  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

it  sees  what  it  sees,  it  does  what  it  does.  It  uses  the  evidence  ; 
but  uses  it  to  leap  from,  to  go  further.  Its  motives,  advances, 
efforts,  issue  from  within  itself.  Just  as  the  lover's  final  answer 
to  the  question, '  why  did  you  do  that  ? '  must  be, '  because  I  loved ' ; 
so  the  final  answer  of  the  believer,  in  explanation  of  an  act, 
can  never  be  wrung  out  of  the  reasonable  grounds  for  so  acting ; 
it  must  always  be  '  because  I  believed.'  Just  as  man  first 
acts,  and  speaks,  and  reason,  following  behind,  can  at  last 
discover  that  his  actions  were  all  consecutive,  and  that  his 
language  has  a  perfect  grammar :  so  faith  has  always  to  make 
its  venture,  prompted  and  inspired  from  within,  and  only  long 
afterwards  can  it  expect  to  learn  that  if  it  has  been  true  to 
itself,  to  its  proper  promptings,  then  its  action  can,  by  slow 
and  plodding  reason,  be  thoroughly  interpreted  and  justified. 
Faith  is,  above  all  things,  anticipatory.  The  sonship,  within, 
anticipates  what  the  Father  has  in  store  for  it :  by  means  of 
affection,  by  rapid  instincts  of  love,  it  assumes  what  it  cannot 
yet  verify,  it  foretells  the  secrets  that  lie  hidden  within  the 
Father's  eyes.  So  anticipating,  it 'makes  its  venture; — a  ven- 
ture which  love  alone  can  understand  and  justify,  though  the 
faithfulness  of  the  eternal  and  supreme  Father  ensures  that 
the  anticipation  shall  receive  its  full  verification. 

If  this  be  the  relation  of  faith  to  i*eason,  we  see  the  expla- 
nation of  what  seems,  at  first  sight,  to  the  philosopher,  to  be 
the  most  irritating  and  hypocritical  characteristic  of  faith. 
It  is  always  shifting  its  intellectual  defences.  It  adopts  this 
or  that  fashion  of  philosophical  apology;  and  then,  when 
this  is  shattered  by  some  novel  scientific  generalisation,  faith, 
probably  after  a  passionate  struggle  to  retain  the  old  position, 
suddenly  and  gaily  abandons  it,  and  takes  up  with  the  new 
formula,  just  as  if  nothing  had  happened:  it  discovers  that 
the  new  formula  is  admirably  adapted  for  its  purposes,  and 
is,  in  fact,  just  what  it  always  meant,  only  it  has  unfortun- 
ately omitted  to  mention  it.  So  it  goes  on,  again  and  again ; 
and  no  wonder  that  the  philosophers  growl  at  those  humbugs, 
the  clergy ! 

But  they  are  criticising  faith  as  if  it  were  a  theory,  as  if 
knowledge  were  its  province,  while,  in  truth,  the  seat  of  faith 

i.     Faith.  3  5 

lies  back  behind  the  region  of  knowledge.  Its  radical  acts  and 
motives  are  independent  of  any  particular  condition  of  thought 
or  science :  they  are  deeper  recessed ;  they  exist  in  their  own 
right,  and  under  their  own  conditions.  True,  they  may  not  be 
able  to  express  themselves,  to  get  their  energies  forward,  to  set 
themselves  free,  to  manifest  themselves,  except  through  the 
mediation  of  knowledge, — through  the  instruments  and  chan- 
nels which  the  science  of  the  day  provides  them.  But  this 
does  not  confuse  their  inherent  and  distinct  character.  They 
never  identify  themselves  with  the  tools  they  use.  They  sit 
quite  loose  to  the  particular  state  of  thought,  the  formula,  the 
terms,  through  which  they  make  their  way  out  into  action. 
And,  moreover,  since  the  acts  of  faith  are  more  radical  than 
those  of  reason,  and  since  they  belong  to  the  entire  man 
acting  in  his  integrity,  they  therefore  of  necessity  anticipate, 
in  their  degree,  all  that  the  man,  by  slow  development,  by 
the  patient  industry  of  reasoning,  will  laboriously  disclose. 
Lying  deeper  than  all  knowledge,  they  hold  in  them  the  con- 
dition under  which  all  knowledge  will  be  arrived  at.  They 
constitute  the  activity  which  ought  to  be  at  the  background 
of  all  our  reasoning.  No  particular  or  partial  state  of  know- 
ledge can  exhaust  their  significance.  Each  step  knowledge 
makes  does  but  illustrate,  in  some  new  fashion,  the  relation 
of  all  knowledge  to  faith — does  but  elucidate  the  character- 
istics of  that  primal  sonship.  In  each  fresh  discovery  or 
generalisation,  faith  finds  a  new  instrument  for  expressing  its 
old  convictions;  it  is  taught  to  see  the  weak  points,  the 
imperfections  of  its  former  expressions ;  it  understands  where 
they  hold  good,  and  where  they  failed ;  it  gets  out  more  of 
itself  than  ever  before,  through  the  new  channels  opened  to 
it ;  it  discovers  more  of  its  own  character  by  finding  better 
modes  in  which  to  manifest  it.  It  does  but  half  know  itself, 
so  long  as  its  expression  is  encumbered. 

The  advance  of  secular  knowledge,  then,  is  for  faith,  an 
acquired  gain :  for  by  it,  it  knows  itself  better ;  it  sees  more 
of  what  was  involved  in  its  vital  convictions.  It  has  a 
struggle,  no  doubt,  in  dropping  oif  the  expressions  that  have 
grown  familiar  to  it,  and  in  detecting  the  fresh  insight  into 

D  3 

36  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

its  own  nature  which  it  can  win  by  the  new  terminology: 
but  when  once  it  has  mastered  the  terms,  new  lights  break 
out  upon  it,  new  suggestions  flash,  new  capacities  disclose 
themselves.  It  has  won  a  new  tool:  when  it  has  become 
familiarised  with  the  use  of  it,  it  can  do  great  and  unexpected 
things  with  it. 

But,  for  all  that,  it  is  but  a  new  tool,  worked  by  the  old 
convictions;  they  have  not  changed,  any  more  than  love 
changes,  though  the  slow  development  of  married  life  may 
carry  the  lovers  into  unknown  experiences,  in  foreign  lands, 
under  changed  skies.  The  two,  if  they  be  faithful,  learn  far 
more  of  what  the  love  they  plighted  means,  as  each  sweeping 
revolution  carries  them  hither  and  thither,  than  ever  they 
understood  on  the  wedding  day ;  yet  it  is  ever  the  old  love 
then  pledged,  which  they  hold  fast  to  the  end.  Its  identity 
is  emphasised  by  the  changes.  So  with  faith.  It  may  absorb 
its  energies  in  the  joy  of  wielding  the  particular  instrument 
with  which,  at  any  one  moment,  science  supplies  it.  But  it 
will  never  the  least  fear  to  drop  it,  so  soon  as  the  advancing 
skill  and  the  pushing  minds  of  men  have  elaborated  for  it 
some  yet  more  delicate  and  subtle  tool,  wherewith  to  give  free 
play  to  its  native  vitalities. 

For  faith  is  moved  by  but  one  solitary  passion — the  hope 
of  cleaving,  closer  and  ever  closer,  to  the  being  of  God.  It 
is,  itself,  nothing  but  this  act  of  personal  adherence,  of  per- 
sonal cohesion ;  and  all  else  is,  for  it,  material  that  can  be 
subdued  to  this  single  service.  Each  bettering  of  knowledge 
intensifies  the  possibilities  of  this  cohesion ;  and,  for  that,  it 
is  welcomed.  It  opens  out  fresh  aspects  of  the  good  Father  : 
it  uncovers  new  treasures  of  His  wisdom  :  therefore,  for  faith, 
it  is  an  ever-mounting  ladder,  by  which  it  draws  nearer  and 
nearer,  spirit  to  spirit,  heart  to  heart.  No  idle  or  indifferent 
matter  this ;  and  right  knowledge,  therefore,  is  for  faith,  a 
serious  and  pressing  need.  And,  moreover,  faith  is  pledged 
to  use  all  possible  guidance  and  direction  in  making  its  great 
act  of  self-surrender  to  God.  And  it  is  the  peculiar  office 
of  reason,  and  of  the  rational  conscience,  to  guard  it  from 
any  distorted  and  unworthy  venture.  Faith  has  to  make  its 

i.     Faith.  37 

leap  ;  but  to  make  it  exactly  in  that  direction,  and  in  no 
other,  where  reason  points  the  way.  It  is  bound  therefore  - 
to  use  all  its  intelligent  resources  :  it  may  not  fall  below  the 
level  of  its  highest  reason  without  the  risk  of  sinking  to  a 
superstition.  This  is  the  radical  difference  between  what  we 
here  claim,  and  that  which  a  superstition  demands  of  us.  A 
superstition  asks  faith  to  shut  its  eyes.  We  ask  it  to  open 
them  as  wide  as  it  can.  We  demand  this  of  it  as  a  positive 
duty.  It  is  bound,  as  an  act  of  the  whole  man,  to  use  every 
conceivable  means  and  security  which  knowledge  can  bring  it. 
For  so  alone  can  it  secure  itself  against  the  hazards  which 
encompass  its  adventure.  It  cannot  afford  to  enter  on  that 
venturous  committal  of  itself  less  equipped  and  instructed 
than  it  was  open  to  it  to  be.  It  must  put  all  to  use  that  can 
better  its  offer  of  itself  to  God. 

It  is,  in  this  seriousness,  that  faith  is  apt  to  embrace  so  fast 
the  dominant  scientific  or  philosophical  creed.  It  has  found, 
through  this  creed,  a  new  and  thrilling  insight  into  God's 
mind,  and  it  fastens  on  this  precious  gift ;  and  dwells  delight- 
edly on  it,  and  spends  itself  in  absorbing  the  peculiar  truths 
which  this  particular  way  of  thinking  brings  to  the  front. 
So  that,  at  last,  when  the  smash  comes,  when  the  floods  break 
in,  when  the  accumulation  of  new  facts  outside  the  old  lines 
necessitates  a  total  reconstruction  of  the  intellectual  fabric, 
faith  seems  to  have  gone  under  with  the  ruined  scheme  to 
which  it  had  attached  itself  so  firmly. 

Yet,  if  ever  it  has  implicated  its  own  fate  with  that  of  any 
particular  form  of  knowledge,  it  has  been  false  to  itself.  It 
has  no  more  right  to  identify  itself  with  any  intellectual 
situation  than  it  has  to  pin  its  fortunes  to  those  of  any 
political  dynasty.  Its  eternal  task  lies  in  rapid  readjustment 
to  each  fresh  situation,  which  the  motion  of  time  may  disclose 
to  it.  It  has  that  in  it  which  can  apply  to  all,  and  learn  from 
all.  Its  identity  is  not  lost,  because  its  expressions  vary  and 
shift :  for  its  identity  lies  deep  in  personality ;  and  per- 
sonality is  that  which  testifies  to  its  own  identity  by  the 
variety  and  the  rapidity  of  its  self-adaptation  to  the  changes 
of  circumstance.  So  with  faith.  Its  older  interpretations  of 

38  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

itself  are  not  false,  because  the  newer  situations  have  called 
for  different  manifestations.  Each  situation  forces  a  new 
aspect  to  the  front.  But  ever  it  is  God  and  the  soul,  which 
recognise  each  other  under  every  disguise.  Now  it  is  in  one 
fashion  and  now  in  another:  but  it  is  always  one  unalter- 
able wisdom  which  is  justified,  recognised,  and  loved,  by 
those  who  are  her  children. 

We  will  not,  then,  be  the  least  afraid  of  the  taunt,  that  we 
are  all  accepting  and  delivering  from  our  pulpits  that  which 
once  threw  us  into  anger  and  dismay.  Only  let  us  learn 
our  true  lesson ;  and,  in  our  zeal  to  appreciate  the  wonders 
of  Evolution,  let  us  hold  ourselves  prepared  for  the  day  which 
is  bound  to  come,  when  again  the  gathering  facts  will  clamour 
for  a  fresh  generalisation :  and  the  wheel  will  give  one  more 
turn ;  and  the  new  man  will  catch  sight  of  the  vision  which  is 
preparing ;  and  the  new  book  will  startle  ;  and  the  new  band 
of  youthful  professors  will  denounce  and  demolish  our  present 
heroes  ;  and  all  the  reviews  and  magazines  will  yelp  in  chorus 
at  their  heels,  proclaiming  loudly  that  now,  at  last  and  for 
ever,  the  faith,  which  has  pledged  itself  so  deeply  to  the 
obsolete  and  discredited  theory  of  Evolution,  is  indeed  dead 
and  done  with.  Faith  will  survive  that  crisis,  as  it  has  sur- 
vived so  many  before :  but  it  will  be  something,  if  it  does  not 
drag  behind  it  the  evil  record  of  passion,  and  blindness,  with 
which  it  has  too  often  disgraced  its  unwilling  passage  from 
truth  to  truth. 

IV.  But  here  our  objections  take,  perhaps,  a  new  turn 
altogether.  '  Ah,  yes  ! '  it  will  be  said ;  '  faith,  if  it  were  a 
simple  surrender  of  the  soul  to  God,  a  childlike  adhesion 
of  the  spiritual  sonship  in  us  to  its  Father,  Who  is  in 
heaven,  might  sit  loose  to  all  formulae,  theories,  discoveries, 
in  the  way  described.  Faith,  if  it  limited  itself  to  this  mys- 
tical communion,  might  be  beyond  the  scope  and  criticism  of 
reason.  But  this  is  not  the  least  what  you  really  ask  of  us. 
The  faith,  for  which  you  practically  plead,  the  only  form  of 
faith  actually  open  to  us,  has  rashly  left  these  safe  confines  :  it 
has  implicated  itself  with  a  vast  body  of  facts  recorded  in  a 
book.  It  has  involved  itself  in  intricate  statements  of  dogma. 

i.     Faith.  39 

How  can  you  claim  to  be  free  from  the  control  of  logic  and 
criticism,  in  things  so  directly  open  to  logical  treatment1? 
This  spiritual  faith  of  yours  has  mixed  itself  up  with  alien 
matter,  with  historical  incidents,  with  intellectual  definitions  : 
here  are  things  of  evidence  and  proof.  Here  its  locks  are 
shorn ;  its  mystic  strength  is  gone.  Delilah  holds  it  fast ;  it 
is  a  prisoner  in  the  hands  of  the  Philistines.  If  you  will 
retreat  again  back  into  the  region  of  simple  spiritual  in- 
tuitions, and  abandon  to  reason  this  debatable  land,  how 
gladly  would  we  follow  you !  But  that  is  just  what  you  refuse 
to  do.' 

Now,  here  is  the  serious  moment  for  us  of  to-day.  It  is  quite 
true  that  all  would  be  plain  and  easy,  if  we  might  be  allowed 
to  make  this  retreat — if  we  might  limit  our  claims  for  the 
spirit  to  that  simple  childlike  intuition  which,  instinctively, 
feels  after,  and  surrenders  to,  the  good  Father  in  heaven. 
But  what  would  that  retreat  mean?  It  would  mean  an 
attempt,  desperate  and  blind,  to  turn  back  the  world's  story, 
to  ignore  the  facts,  to  over-leap  the  distinctions  of  time  and 
place,  to  deny  experience,  to  force  ourselves  back  into  pri- 
mitive days,  to  imagine  ourselves  children  again.  Simple 
intuitions  of  God,  simple  communion  with  the  Father,  un- 
questioned, undistracted, — this  is  the  privilege  of  primitive 
days,  when  minds  are  simple,  when  experience  is  simple,  when 
society  is  simple.  Plain,  easy,  and  direct  situations  admit  of 
plain,  easy,  and  direct  handling.  But  our  situation  is  not 
plain,  easy,  or  direct.  Our  minds  are  intricate  and  com- 
plicated ;  our  story  has  been  a  long  and  a  difficult  one ;  our 
social  condition  is  the  perplexed  deposit  of  age-long  expe- 
riences. The  faith,  which  is  to  be  ours  to-day,  must  be  a 
faith  of  to-day.  It  cannot  remain  at  the  level  of  childhood, 
when  nothing  else  in  us  or  about  us  is  the  least  childlike. 
It  cannot  babble  out  in  pretty  baby-language,  when  the 
situation  with  which  it  has  to  deal  is  terribly  earnest,  serious, 
perilous,  and  intense.  It  must  be  level  with  its  work ;  and 
its  work  is  complicated,  hard,  disciplined :  how  can  it  expect 
to  accomplish  it  without  effort,  without  pain,  without  train- 
ing, without  intricacy  1  The  world  is  old  ;  human  life  is  old  ; 

4O  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

and  faith  is  old  also.     It  has  had  many  a  strange  and  stormy 
experience ;  it  has  learned  much  on  the  way ;  it  has  about  it 
the  marks  of  old  troubles  ;   the  care,  the  patience,  the  com- 
pleteness of  age,  have  left  their  stamp  upon  it.     It  has  had  a 
history,  like  everything  else;    and  it  reaches  us  to-day,  in 
a  form  which  that  history  behind  it  can  alone  make  intel- 
ligible.    Four  thousand  years  have  gone  to  its  making — since 
Abraham  first  laid  hold,  in  a  definite  and  consistent  manner, 
of  the  faith  which  is  ours  to-day.     All  those  centuries  it  has 
been  putting   itself  together,  growing,  enriching  itself,  de- 
veloping, as   it   faced  and   measured   each  new   issue,  each 
gathering  complication,  each  pressing  hazard.     This  long  ex- 
perience has  built  up  faith's  history :  and,  by  study  of  that 
history,  we  can  know  why  it  was  that  faith  could  not  stand 
still  at  that  point  where  we  should  find  it  so  convenient  to 
rest.     Faith  appeals  to  its  own  story  to  justify  its  career ; 
it  bears  about  that  history  with  it  as  its  explanation,  why, 
and  how   it   has    arrived    at    its    present    condition.      That 
history  is  its  proof  how  far  it  has  left   its  first  childhood 
behind  it,  how  impossible  it  is,  at  the  end  of  the  days,  to 
return  to   the   beginning.      The    history,   which   constitutes 
our  difficulty,  is  its  own  answer.     For  there,  in  that  Bible, 
lies    the    recorded   story  of  the    facts   which   pressed   hard 
upon  the   earliest  intuition  of  God,  and  drove  it  forward, 
and  compelled   it  to  fix  itself,  and  to  define  itself,  and  to 
take  a  firmer  root,  and  to  make  for  itself  a  secure  dwelling- 
place,  and   to   shape   for  itself  a  career.     The  Bible   is  the 
apology  which  our  faith  carries  with  it,  and  offers  as  a  proof 
of  the  necessity  which  has  forced  it  to  go  beyond  its  primitive 
efforts,  until  it  has  reached  the  stage  at  which  we  now  en- 
counter it.     It  portrays   there,  before  our  eyes,  how  it  all 
began ;  how  there  came  to  this  man  and  to  that,  the  simple 
augury,  the  presage,  the  spasm  of  spiritual  insight,  the  flash, 
the    glimpse,   the    intimation ;    until    there    came    the    man, 
Abraham,  in  whom  it  won  the   emphasis,  the  solidity,  the 
power,  of  a  call.     '  Oh !  that  we  might  be  content  to  feel,  as 
he,  the  presence  of  the  Everlasting !    Why  not  leave  us  in 
peace,  we  cry,  with  the  simple  faith  of  Abraham  ? '    And  the 

i.     Faith.  4 1 

answer  is  plain :  '  because  it  is  the  nineteenth  century  after 
Christ,  instead  of  the  nineteenth  century  before.'  We  are 
making  a  mistake  of  dates.  Let  us  turn  to  our  Bible  and  read. 
There  we  watch  the  reasons  disclosing  themselves  why  that 
simple  faith  could  not  abide  in  arrest  at  its  first  moment ;  why 
it  must  open  a  new  career,  with  new  duties,  and  new  respon- 
sibilities, and  new  problems.  The  seed  is  sown,  but  it  has  to 
grow ;  to  make  good  its  footing  amid  the  thick  of  human 
affairs  ;  to  root  itself  in  the  soil  of  human  history ;  to  spread 
itself  out  in  institutions ;  to  push  its  dominion ;  to  widen  its 
range ;  to  become  a  tree  that  will  fill  the  land.  Before 
Abraham,  it  was  but  a  flying  seed,  blown  by  the  winds ;  now, 
it  is  a  stable,  continuous,  masterful  growth.  It  must  be  this, 
if  it  is  ever  to  make  effective  its  spiritual  assertions  over  the 
increasing  intricacy  of  human  affairs. 

What,  let  us  ask,  is  that  life  of  faith  which  historically  began 
with  Abraham  ?  It  is  a  friendship,  an  intimacy,  between  man 
and  God,  between  a  son  and  a  father.  Such  an  intimacy  cannot 
be  idle  or  stagnant;  it  cannot  arrest  its  instinctive  development. 
It  holds  in  it  infinite  possibilities  of  growth :  of  increasing 
familiarity,  of  multiplied  communion.  And,  thus,  such  a  friend- 
ship creates  a  story  of  its  own  ;  it  has  its  jars,  its  frictions,  its 
entanglements ;  alas !  on  one  side,  its  lapses,  its  quarrels,  its 
blunders,  its  misunderstandings :  and  then,  on  the  other,  its 
corresponding  indignations,  and  withdrawals,  and  rebukes  ; 
and  yet  again,  its  reconciliations,  its  reactions,  its  pardons,  its 
victories.  Ever  it  moves  forward  on  its  chequered  path  :  ever 
God,  the  good  Friend,  spends  Himself  in  recovering  the  inti- 
macy, in  renewing  it,  in  purging  it,  in  raising  it.  Its  condi- 
tions expand :  its  demands  intensify :  its  perils  deepen :  its 
glories  gather :  until  it  consummates  its  effort  in  the  per- 
fected communion  of  God  and  man — in  Him,  Who  completes 
and  closes  the  story  of  this  ever-growing  intimacy,  by  that 
act  of  supreme  condescension  which  brings  down  God  to 
inhabit  and  possess  the  heart  of  man  :  and  by  that  act  of 
supreme  exaltation,  which  uplifts  man  into  absolute  union 
with  the  God  Who  made  him. 

This  is  the  story:  the  Bible  is  its  record.     As  a  body  of 

42  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

incidents  and  facts  it  must  be  subject  to  all  the  conditions  of 
history  and  the  laws  of  evidence  ;  as  a  written  record  it 
introduces  a  swarm  of  questions,  which  can  be  sifted  and 
decided  by  rational  criticism.  This  entails  complications,  it 
must  be  confessed ;  but  they  are  inevitable.  The  intimacy 
between  man  and  God  cannot  advance,  except  through  the 
pressure  of  connected  and  recorded  experience.  A  human 
society  which  has  no  record  of  its  past  is  robbed  of  its  future. 
It  is  savage :  it  cannot  go  forward,  because  it  cannot  look 
back.  So  with  this  divine  friendship.  Its  recorded  experi- 
ences are  the  one  condition  of  its  growth.  Without  them  it 
must  always  be  beginning  afresh  :  it  must  remain  imprisoned 
at  the  starting-post.  The  length  and  complexity  of  its  record 
is  the  measure  of  its  progress ;  even  though  they  must  pre- 
sent, at  the  same  time,  a  larger  surface  to  the  handling  of 
criticism,  and  may  involve  a  deeper  degree  of  obscurity  in 

And,  after  all,  though  details  drawn  out  of  a  dead  past 
permit  obscurity,  the  nature  and  character  of  the  main  issue 
become  ever  more  fixed  and  distinct,  as  the  long  roll  of 
circumstances  discloses  its  richer  secrets.  The  very  shift 
and  confusion  of  the  surface-material  throws  out,  in  emphatic 
contrast,  the  firm  outlines  of  the  gathering  and  growing 
mystery.  Ever  the  advance  proceeds,  throwing  off  all  that 
is  accidental,  immaterial,  subservient :  ever  man  becomes 
clearer  in  his  recognition  of  the  claims  made  on  him  by 
the  hope  which  God  keeps  ever  before  Him,  '  They  shall 
be  my  people :  I  will  be  their  God.'  Ever  the  necessities 
of  such  an  intimate  affection  point  to  the  coming  of  the 
Christ.  Christ  is  the  end,  the  sum,  the  completion,  of  this 
historic  friendship :  and  His  advent  is,  therefore,  absolutely 
unintelligible  unless  it  is  held  in  relation  to  the  long  expe- 
rience, which  He  interprets,  justifies,  and  fulfils.  Faith  in 
Christ  is  the  last  result,  the  ultimate  and  perfected  condition 
of  that  faith  of  Abraham,  which  enabled  him  to  become  the 
first  friend  of  God.  And  the  immense  experience  that  lay 
between  Abraham  and  St.  Paul,  can  alone  bridge  the  interval, 
can  alone  exhibit  the  slow  and  laborious  evolution,  through 

i.     Faith.  43 

which  the  primitive  apprehension  of  God  was  transformed  into 
the  Christian  Creed — that  mighty  transformation,  spread  out 
over  two  thousand  years  of  varied  history,  which  our  Lord 
summed  up  in  the  lightning-flash,  '  Your  father  Abraham 
rejoiced  to  see  my  day:  and  he  saw  it,  and  was  glad.'  The 
Book  is  the  record  of  those  tested  and  certified  experi- 
ments, which  justified  our  Lord  in  asserting  that  to  believe  in 
God  was,  necessarily,  to  believe  in  Him.  No  one  can  under- 
stand that  assertion,  unless  by  seeing  it  worked  out,  in  detail, 
by  the  searching  logic  of  experience. 

Faith  in  Christ,  then,  includes  faith  in  the  Bible :  and,  in 
saying  that,  we  have  already  cleared  away  much  of  the  diffi- 
culty that  beset  us,  For  our  faith  in  Christ  becomes  the 
measure  and  standard  of  our  faith  in  the  Bible.  We  believe 
in  it  as  the  record  of  our  growing  intimacy  with  God.  Faith 
is,  still,  a  spiritual  cohesion  of  person  with  person, — of  the 
living  soul  with  a  living  God.  No  details  that  intervene 
confuse  this  primitive  relation.  Only,  that  cohesion  was  not 
reached  at  one  leap.  It  is  ancient :  it  has  traversed  many  inci- 
dents and  trials :  it  has  learned  much :  it  has  undergone  patient 
apprenticeship :  it  has  been  bonded  by  the  memory  of  multi- 
tudinous vicissitudes.  Like  all  else  that  is  human,  it  has  grown. 
The  details  of  events  are  the  media  of  that  growth.  In  that 
character  they  are  vitally  essential  to  the  formed  intimacy : 
but  in  that  character  alone.  They  are  not  valued  for  their 
own  sake ;  but  for  the  cause  which  they  served.  Belief  in 
God  never  changes  its  character,  and  becomes  belief  in  facts  : 
it  only  developes  into  a  deeper  and  deeper  belief  in  God,  as 
disciplined  by  facts.  The  facts  must  be  real,  if  the  discipline 
is  to  be  real :  but,  apart  from  this  necessity,  we  are  indifferent 
to  them.  We  can  listen  to  anything  which  historical  criticism 
has  to  tell  us,  of  dates  and  authorship  ;  of  time  and  place.  It 
may  supply  all  the  gaps  in  our  record,  showing  how  the 
material  there  briefly  gathered,  had,  itself,  a  story,  and  slowly 
came  together,  and  had  sources  and  associations  elsewhere. 
All  such  research  adds  interest  to  the  record,  as  it  opens  out 
to  us  the  action  of  the  Divine  Intimacy,  in  lajdng  hold  of  its 
material.  We  watch  it,  by  the  aid  of  such  criticism,  at  its 

44  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

work  of  assimilation  ;  and,  in  uncovering  its  principles  of 
selection,  we  apprehend  its  inner  mind  :  we  draw  closer  to  our 
God.  The  more  nearly  we  can  ally  the  early  conditions  of 
Israel  to  those  of  Arabian  nomads,  the  more  delicate  and  rare 
becomes  our  apprehension  of  that  divine  relationship,  which, 
by  its  perpetual  pressure,  lifted  Israel  to  its  marvellous 
supremacy,  and  which,  by  its  absence,  left  the  Arabian  to 
be  what  he  is  to-day. 

The  point  at  which  criticism  must  hold  off  its  hands  is, 
of  course,  a  most  subtle  matter  to  decide.  But  we  can,  at 
least,  be  sure  of  this — that  such  a  point  will  be  no  arbitrary 
one ;  it  will  be  there,  where  criticism  attempts  to  trench  on 
the  reality  and  the  uniqueness  of  the  Divine  Intimacy,  which 
those  incidents  served  to  fashion,  and  those  books  detected  and 
recorded,  and  Christ  consummated.  Our  faith  in  Christ  must 
determine  what,  in  the  Bible,  is  vital  to  its  own  veracity. 
There  is  no  other  measure  or  rule  of  what  we  mean  by  in- 

The  preparation  for  Christ,  then,  necessitates  such  com- 
plications as  these.  And  the  character  of  His  advent  in- 
tensified and  thickened  them.  For,  while  asking  of  us  the 
purest  form  of  spiritual  adherence,  He  makes  that  demand 
in  a  shape  which  is  imbedded  throughout  in  concrete  his- 
torical facts,  which,  as  facts,  must  be  subject  to  the  thumb 
of  critical  discussion,  and  to  all  the  external  handling  of 
evidence  and  argument. 

And,  then,  on  the  top  of  this,  He  has,  of  necessity,  raised 
the  question  of  His  own  Personality  to  such  a  pitch  of  vital 
value,  that  the  full  force  of  man's  intellectual  activities  is 
drawn  towards  its  consideration, — is  summoned  to  contem- 
plate, and  measure,  and  apprehend  it, — is  compelled  to  examine 
and  face  its  tremendous  issues.  The  supreme  act  of  personal 
surrender,  for  which  Christ  unhesitatingly  asks,  cannot  con- 
ceivably pass  beyond  its  child-stage  without  forming  a  direct 
and  urgent  challenge  to  the  intellect  to  say  how,  and  why,  such 
an  act  can  be  justified,  or  such  a  claim  interpreted.  No  faith 
can  reach  to  such  an  absolute  condition  without  finding  itself 
involved  in  anxieties,  perils,  problems,  complications.  Its  very 

i.     Faith.  45 

absoluteness  is  a  provocation  to  the  questioning  and  disputing 
mind, — to  the  hesitating  and  scrupulous  will.  And  the  result, 
the  inevitable  result,  of  such  a  faith — proposed,  as  it  was,  to 
a  world  no  longer  young  and  childlike,  but  matured,  old, 
thoughtful,  experienced— is  the  Dogmatic  Creeds.  We  clamour 
against  these  intellectual  complications :  we  cry  out  for  the 
simple  primitive  faith.  But,  once  again,  it  is  a  mistake  of 
dates.  We  cannot  ask  to  be  as  if  eighteen  centuries  had 
dropped  out,  unnoticed — as  if  the  mind  had  slumbered  since 
the  days  of  Christ,  and  had  never  asked  a  question.  We  can- 
not hope  to  be  in  the  same  condition  after  a  question  has 
been  asked,  as  we  were  before  it  had  ever  occurred  to  us  to 
ask  it.  The  Creeds  only  record  that  certain  questions  have, 
as  a  fact,  been  asked.  Could  our  world  be  what  it  is,  and  not 
have  asked  them  1  These  difficulties  of  a  complicated  faith 
are  only  the  reflection  of  the  difficulties  of  a  complicated  life. 
If,  as  a  fact,  we  are  engaged  in  living  a  life  which  is  intricate, 
subtle,  anxious,  then  any  faith  which  hopes  to  cover  and  embrace 
that  life,  cannot  escape  the  necessity  of  being  intricate,  subtle, 
and  anxious  also.  No  child's  creed  can  satisfy  a  man's  needs, 
hunger,  hopes,  anxieties.  If  we  are  asked  to  throw  over  the 
complications  of  our  Creeds,  we  must  beg  those  that  ask  us,  to 
begin  by  throwing  over  the  complications  of  this  social  and 
moral  life. 

But  still,  with  the  Creeds  as  with  the  Bible,  it  is  the  per- 
sonal intimacy  with  God  in  Christ  which  alone  is  our  con- 
cern. We  do  not,  in  the  strict  sense,  believe  in  the  Bible, 
or  in  the  Creeds :  we  believe  solely  and  absolutely  in  Christ 
Jesus.  Faith  is  our  living  act  of  adherence  in  Him,  of  cohe- 
sion with  God.  But  still,  once  more,  we  must  recognise 
that  this  act  of  adhesion  has  a  history :  it  has  gradually 
been  trained  and  perfected :  and  this  has  been  accomplished 
through  the  long  and  perilous  experiences  recorded  in  the 
Old  Testament ;  and  it  has  been  consummated  in  the  final 
sealing  of  the  perfected  intimacy  attained  in  Him,  in  Whose 
person  it  was  realised  and  made  possible  for  us :  and  it  has 
been  guarded  and  secured  to  us  in  the  face  of  the  over- 
whelming pressure  of  eighteen  strong,  stormy,  and  distracted 

46  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

centuries.  And  therefore  it  is  that  we  now  must  attain  our 
cohesion  with  God,  subject  to  all  the  necessities  laid  upon  us 
by  the  fact  that  we  enter  on  the  world's  stage  at  a  late  hour, 
when  the  drama  has  already  developed  its  plot  and  compli- 
cated its  situations.  This  is  why  we  cannot  now,  in  full  view 
of  the  facts,  believe  in  Christ,  without  finding  that  our  belief 
includes  the  Bible  and  the  Creeds. 

V.  Faith  is,  still  and  always,  a  spiritual  intimacy,  a  living 
friendship  with  God.  That  is  what  we  must  be  for  ever 
asserting.  That  is  the  key  to  all  our  problems  ;  and  once  sure 
of  this  in  all  its  bearings,  we  shall  not  be  afraid  of  a  taunt 
which  is  apt  to  sting  especially  those  of  us  who  are  ordained. 
It  is  conveyed,  in  its  noblest  form,  in  a  book  of  Mr.  John 
Morley's,  on  Compromise.  No  one  can  read  that  book  without 
being  the  better  or  the  worse  for  it.  The  intense  force  of  high 
moral  convictions  acts  upon  us  like  a  judgment.  It  evokes  the 
deepest  conscience  in  us  to  come  forward,  and  stand  at  that 
austere  bar  and  justify  itself,  or,  in  failing  to  justify  itself, 
sink  condemned.  And  in  that  book  he  asks  the  old  question, 
with  unequalled  power:  how  can  it  possibly  be  honest  for 
men  to  sign  away  their  reason  at  the  age  of  twenty-three  ?— 
to  commit  themselves  to  conclusions  which  they  cannot  have 
mastered — to  anticipate  beforehand  all  that  experience  may 
have  to  teach  ?  In  committing  themselves  to  positions  which 
any  new  knowledge  or  discovery  may  reverse,  they  have  for- 
bidden themselves  the  free  use  of  their  critical  faculties :  they 
have  resigned  their  intellectual  conscience. 

What  do  we  answer  to  that  severe  arraignment  1  Surely 
we  now  know  well.  Faith  is  an  affair  of  personal  intimacy, 
of  friendship,  of  will,  of  love :  and,  in  all  such  cases,  we  should 
know  exactly  what  to  do  with  language  of  this  type.  We 
should  laugh  it  out  of  court.  For  it  is  language  which  does 
not  belong  to  this  region.  It  is  the  language,  it  expresses 
the  temper,  of  the  scientific  student — a  temper,  an  attitude 
specialised  for  a  distinct  purpose.  That  purpose  is  one  of 
gradual  advance  into  regions  as  yet  untouched  and  unsus- 
pected— an  advance  which  is  for  ever  changing  the  relations 
and  classifications  of  those  already  partially  known.  The 

i.     Faith.  47 

temper  essential  to  such  a  purpose  must  be  prepared  for 
discovery,  for  development,  for  the  unexpected  ;  it  is  bound  to 
be  tentative,  experimental,  hypothetical — to  be  cool,  critical, 
corrective.  It  deals  with  impersonal  matter ;  and  it  must 
itself,  therefore,  be  as  far  as  possible  impersonal,  abstract, 
non-moral,  without  passion,  without  individuality,  without 
a  private  intention,  or  will,  or  fixed  opinion. 

But  such  a  temper,  perfectly  justified  for  scientific  purposes, 
is  absolutely  impotent  and  barren  in  matters  of  moral  feeling 
and  practice. 

The  man  who  brings  this  temper  into  play  in  affairs  of  the 
will,  or  the  heart,  or  the  imagination,  in  cases  of  affection, 
friendship,  passion,  inspiration,  generosity,  in  the  things  of 
home,  of  war,  of  patriotism,  of  love,  is  in  the  wrong  world : 
he  is  a  living  blunder :  he  has  no  cue,  no  key,  no  interpretation. 
He  is  simply  absurd. 

And  religion  stands  with  these  affairs.  Just  as  we  see  well 
enough  that  if  love  were  approached  in  this  scientific  spirit,  it 
could  not  even  begin,  so  it  is  quite  as  certain  that,  if  faith  were 
approached  in  this  spirit,  it  could  not  even  begin. 

Mr.  Moiiey  has  mixed  up  two  different  wTorlds.  He  is 
criticising  that  form  of  knowledge,  which  consists  in  spiritual 
apprehension  of  another's  personality  through  the  whole  force 
of  a  man's  inherent,  and  integral,  and  personal,  will  and 
desire,  by  the  standard  of  another  form  of  knowledge  altogether, 
which  consists  in  gradual  and  experimental  assimilation  of 
foreign  and  unknown  matter  through  specialised  organs  of 
critical  observation. 

This  latter  knowledge  is  bound  to  be  as  far  as  possible 
emptied  of  personal  elements.  But  our  knowledge  is  nothing 
if  not  personal :  it  is  the  knowledge  which  issues,  and  issues 
only,  out  of  the  personal  contact  of  life  with  life.  And 
this  is  why  it  can  afford  to  anticipate  the  future.  For 
a  person  is  a  consistent  and  integral  whole:  if  you  know 
it  at  any  one  point,  you  know  it  in  a  sense  at  all  points. 
The  one  character,  the  one  will,  disclose  themselves  through 
every  partial  expression,  and  passing  gesture,  and  varying  act. 
Therefore  it  is  that,  when  two  personalities  draw  towards  one 

48  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

another  in  the  touch  of  love,  they  can  afford  to  plight  their 
word.  For  love  is  the  instinctive  prophecy  of  a  future  ad- 
herence. It  is  the  assurance,  passing  from  soul  to  soul,  that  no 
new  discovery  of  what  is  involved  in  their  after-life  together 
can  ever  deny,  or  defeat,  or  destroy  their  present  mutual 
coherence  in  each  other.  That  adhesion,  that  adaptability, 
which  has  been  proved  at  a  few  points,  will  necessarily  be 
justified  throughout.  The  marriage-pledge  expresses  the  ab- 
solute conviction  that  the  present  experience  is  irreversible, 
except  by  wilful  sin.  Whatever  novelties  the  years  bring 
with  them,  those  two  characters  will  abide  what  they  are 
to-day.  Growth  cannot  radically  alter  them. 

Love,  then,  is  this  confident  anticipation,  which  takes  the 
future  in  pledge.  And  where  this  anticipation  breaks  down, 
it  must  be  through  human  infirmity,  wrong,  misunder- 

And  our  knowledge  of  Christ  is  this  knowledge  of  love ; 
wherever  it  exists,  and  so  far  as  it  exists,  it  issues  out  of 
personal  contact,  personal  inter-action.  This  is  why,  in  its 
tested  and  certified  form,  i.  e.  in  the  accumulated  and  historic 
experience  of  the  Catholic  community,  it  can  rationally  justify 
its  anticipation  of  an  unbroken  adherence. 

And  it  can  do  so  with  complete  confidence,  because,  here,  on 
the  side  of  Christ,  there  is  no  infirmity  which  can  endanger 
the  plighted  faith :  there  is  no  lapse,  no  decline  possible. 
Christ  must  be  loyal,  for  He  is  sinless.  And  more :  being 
sinless,  He  is  consistent.  Every  part  of  Him  is  in  harmony 
with  the  whole:  in  Him  there  is  no  unsteadiness,  no  in- 
security. Such  a  flawless  character  is  identical  with  itself: 
wherever  it  is  touched,  it  can  be  tested  and  approved. 

What,  then,  can  upset  our  trust  in  Him  1  What  can  disturb 
our  knowledge  of  Him  ?  What  fear  of  change  can  the  years 
bring  on  ?  We  may  know  but  a  tiny  fragment,  a  fringe  of 
this  love  of  His  to  us,  yet  that  is  enough :  to  have  felt  it  at 
all  is  to  trust  it  for  ever.  We  cannot  hesitate  to  commit 
ourselves  to  One  Who,  if  we  know  Him  in  any  way,  is  known 
to  be,  by  inward,  personal,  inherent  necessity,  the  'same 
yesterday,  to-day,  and  for  ever.' 

i.     Faith.  49 

Yes ! — but  still  it  may  be  pleaded,  that  this  anticipatory 
adherence,  which  might  justifiably  be  given  to  a  person 
beloved,  cannot  be  pledged  to  dogmatic  definitions.  These, 
at  any  rate,  are  matters  not  of  love,  but  of  reason :  they  must 
be  liable  to  critical  examination,  to  intellectual  revision.  It 
is  the  pledge  given  to  believe  these  dogmas  in  the  future, 
which  is  such  an  outrage  on  intellectual  morality. 

Now,  this  protest,  forcible  and  obvious  as  it  looks  at  first 
sight,  is  still  guilty  of  confusing  the  criticism  which  belongs 
to  one  province  of  knowledge  with  that  which  belongs  to 
another.  These  dogmas  of  faith  do  not  the  least  correspond 
to  the  classifications  and  laws  of  physical  science ;  and  for 
this  reason,  that  the  matter  to  which  they  relate  is  wholly 
different  in  kind.  Dogmas  represent  reason  in  its  appli- 
cation to  a  personal  life :  scientific  generalisations  represent 
reason  as  applied  to  matter,  from  which  the  conditions  of 
personality  have  been  rigorously  and  rightly  excluded.  The 
difference  is  vital ;  and  it  affects  the  entire  character  of  the 
working  of  reason. 

The  dogmatic  definitions  of  Christian  theology  can  never  be 
divorced  from  their  contact  in  the  personality  of  Christ.  They 
are  statements  concerning  a  living  character.  As  such,  and 
only  as  such,  do  they  come  within  the  lines  of  faith.  We  do 
not,  in  the  strict  sense,  believe  in  them :  for  belief  is  never  a 
purely  intellectual  act ;  it  is  a  movement  of  the  living  man 
drawn  towards  a  living  person.  Belief  can  only  be  in  Jesus 
Christ.  To  Him  alone  do  we  ever  commit  ourselves,  sur- 
render ourselves,  for  ever  and  aye.  But  a  personality,  though 
its  roots  lie  deeper  than  reason,  yet  includes  reason  within 
its  compass :  a  personality  cannot  but  be  rational,  though  it 
be  more  than  merely  rational ;  it  has  in  it  a  rational  ground, 
a  rational  construction ;  it  could  not  be  what  it  is  without 
being  of  such  and  such  a  fixed  and  organic  character.  And 
a  personality,  therefore,  is  intelligible ;  it  lays  itself  open  to 
rational  treatment ;  its  characteristics  can  be  stated  in  terms  of 
thought.  The  Will  of  God  is  the  Word  of  God ;  the  Life  is 
also  the  Light.  That  which  is  loved  can  be  apprehended ;  that 
which  is  felt  can  be  named.  So  the  Personality  of  the  Word 

50  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

admits  of  being  rationally  expressed  in  the  sense  that  reason 
can  name  and  distinguish  those  elements  in  it,  which  con- 
stitute its  enduring  and  essential  conditions.  The  dogmas 
now  in  question,  are  simply  careful  rehearsals  of  those  inherent 
necessities  which,  inevitably,  are  involved  in  the  rational 
construction  of  Christ's  living  character.  They  are  state- 
ments of  what  He  must  be,  if  He  is  what  our  hearts  assure 
us ;  if  He  can  do  that  for  which  our  wills  tender  Him  their 
lifelong  self-surrender.  Unless  these  rational  conditions 
stand,  then,  no  act  of  faith  is  justifiable ;  unless  His  person- 
ality correspond  to  these  assertions,  we  can  never  be  authorised 
in  worshipping  Him. 

But,  if  so,  then  we  can  commit  ourselves  to  these  dogmas 
in  the  same  way,  and  degree,  as  we  commit  ourselves  to  Him. 
We  can  do  so,  in  the  absolute  assurance  that  He  cannot  but 
abide  for  ever,  that  which  we  know  Him  to  be  to-day.  We 
know  Him  indeed,  but '  in  part : '  but  it  is  part  of  a  fixed  and 
integral  character,  which  is  whole  in  every  part ;  and  can 
never  falsify,  in  the  future,  the  revelation  which  it  has  already 
made  of  itself. 

The  real  question,  as  to  Christian  dogma,  lies  in  the  prior 
question — Is  Christianity  justified  in  claiming  to  have  reached 
a  final  position?  If  the  position  is  rightly  final,  then  the 
intellectual  expression  of  its  inherent  elements  is  final  also. 
Here  is  the  deep  contrast  between  it  and  science.  The 
scientific  man  is  forbidden,  by  the  very  nature  of  his  studies, 
to  assume  finality  for  his  propositions.  For  he  is  not  yet  in 
command  of  his  material.  Far,  very  far,  from  it.  He  is 
touching  it  on  its  very  edge.  He  is  engaged  in  slowly  push- 
ing tentative  advances  into  an  unknown  world,  looming,  vast, 
dim,  manifold,  beyond  his  frontier  of  light.  The  coherence  of 
his  known  matter  with  that  huge  mass  beyond  his  ken,  can  be 
but  faintly  imaged  and  suspected.  Wholly  unreckoned  forces 
are  in  operation.  At  any  moment  he  may  be  called  upon  to 
throw  over  the  classification  which  sums  up  his  hitherto  ex- 
perience ;  he  may  have  to  adopt  a  new  centre  ;  to  bring  his  facts 
into  a  novel  focus  ;  and  this  involves  at  once  a  novel  principle 
of  arrangement.  In  such  conditions  dogma  is,  of  course,  an 

i.     Faith.  5 1 

absurdity.  But,  if  we  are  in  a  position  to  have  any  faith  in  <• 
Jesus  Christ,  then  we  must  suppose  that  we  have  arrived  at 
the  one  centre  to  all  possible  experiences,  the  one  focus,  under 
which  all  sights  must  fall.  To  believe  in  Him  at  all  is  to 
believe  that,  by  and  in  'this  Man,  will  God  judge  the  world.' 
In  His  personality,  in  His  character,  we  are  in  possession  of 
the  ultimate  principle,  under  which  the  final  estimate  of  all 
things  will  be  taken.  We  have  given  us,  in  His  sacrifice  and  .i-ikv- 
mission,  the  absolute  rule,  standard,  test,  right  to  the  very 
end.  Nothing  can  fall  outside  it.  In  Him,  God  has  summed 
up  creation.  We  have  touched,  in  Him,  the  '  last  days,'  the 
ultimate  stage  of  all  development.  We  cannot  believe  in  Him 
at  all,  and  not  believe  that  His  message  is  final. 

And  it  is  this  finality  which  justifies  dogma.  If  Christian- 
ity is  final,  it  can  afford  to  be  dogmatic ;  and  we,  who  give 
our  adhesion  to  it,  must,  in  so  doing,  profess  our  adhesion 
to  the  irreversible  nature  of  its  inherent  principles:  for,  in 
so  doing,  we  are  but  re-asserting  our  belief  in  the  absolute 
and  final  sufficiency  of  His  person. 

Let  us  venture,  now,  to  review  the  path  that  we  have 
travelled,  in  order  that  we  may  see  at  what  point  we  have 
arrived.  Faith,  then,  is,  from  first  to  last,  a  spiritual  act  of 
the  deepest  personal  will,  proceeding  out  of  that  central  core  of 
the  being,  where  the  self  is  integral  and  whole,  before  it  has 
sundered  itself  off  into  divided  faculties.  There,  in  that 
root-self,  lie  the  germs  of  all  that  appears  in  the  separate 
qualities  and  gifts — in  feelings,  in  reason,  in  imagination,  in 
desire ;  and  faith,  the  central  activity,  has  in  it,  therefore,  the 
germs  of  all  these  several  activities.  It  has  in  it  that  which 
becomes  feeling,  yet  is  not  itself  a  feeling.  It  has  in  it  that 
which  becomes  reason,  yet  is  not  itself  the  reason.  It  holds 
in  it  imaginative  elements,  yet  is  no  exercise  of  the  imagi- 
nation. It  is  alive  with  that  which  desires,  craves,  loves  ; 
yet  is  not  itself  merely  an  appetite,  a  desire,  a  passion. 
In  all  these  qualities  it  has  its  part :  it  shares  their  nature  ; 
it  has  kindred  motions;  it  shows  itself,  sometimes  through 
the  one,  and  sometimes  through  the  other,  according  to  the 
varieties  of  human  characters.  In  this  man,  it  can  make  the 

E  a 

52  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

feeling  its  main  instrument  and  channel ;  in  that  man,  it  will 
find  the  intellect  its  chief  minister ;  in  another,  it  will  make 
its  presence  known  along  the  track  of  his  innermost  craving 
for  a  support  in  will  and  in  love.  But  it  will  always  remain 
something  over,  and  beyond,  any  one  of  its  distinctive  media ; 
and  not  one  of  these  specialities  of  gift  will  ever,  therefore,  be 
able  to  account  wholly  for  the  faith  which  puts  it  to  use. 
That  is  why  faith  must  always  remain  beyond  its  realised 
evidences.  If  it  finds,  in  some  cases,  its  chief  evidences  in  the 
region  of  feeling,  it  is  nevertheless  open  to  deadly  ruin,  if 
ever  it  identifies  itself  with  these  evidences,  as  if  it  could  rely 
on  them  to  carry  it  through.  It  may  come  into  being  by 
their  help ;  but  it  is  never  genuine  faith,  until  it  can  abide 
in  self-security  at  those  dry  hours,  when  the  evidences  of 
positive  feeling  have  been  totally  withdrawn.  And  as  with 
feeling ;  so  with  reason.  Faith  looks  to  reason  for  its  proofs  : 
it  must  count  on  finding  them ;  it  offers  for  itself  intellectual 
justifications.  It  may  arrive  at  a  man  by  this  road.  But  it 
is  not  itself  reason ;  it  can  never  confuse  itself  with  a  merely 
intellectual  process.  It  cannot,  therefore,  find,  in  reason,  the 
full  grounds  for  its  ultimate  convictions.  Ever  it  retains  its 
own  inherent  character,  by  which  it  is  constituted  an  act  of 
personal  trust — an  act  of  willing  and  loving  self-surrender 
to  the  dominant  sway  of  another's  personality.  It  is  always 
this,  whether  it  springs  up  instinctively,  out  of  the  roots  of 
our  being,  anticipating  all  after-proof,  or  whether  it  is  sum- 
moned out  into  vitality  at  the  close  of  a  long  and  late  argu- 
mentative process.  No  argument,  no  array  of  arguments, 
however  long,  however  massive,  can  succeed  in  excusing  it 
from  that  momentous  effort  of  the  inner  man,  which  is  its 
very  essence.  Let  reason  do  its  perfect  work:  let  it  heap 
up  witness  upon  witness,  proof  upon  proof.  Still  there  will 
come  at  last  the  moment  when  the  call  to  believe  will  be 
just  the  same  to  the  complete  and  reasonable  man  as  it 
always  is  to  the  simplest  child — the  call  to  trust  Another 
with  a  confidence  which  reason  can  justify  but  can  never 
create.  This  act,  which  is  faith,  must  have  in  it  that  spirit 
of  venture,  which  closes  with  Another's  invitation,  which 

i.     Faith.  53 

yields  to  Another's  call.  It  must  still  have  in  it  and  about 
it  the  character  of  a  vital  motion, — of  a  leap  upward, 
which  dares  to  count  on  the  prompting  energies  felt  astir 
within  it. 

Faith  cannot  transfer  its  business  into  other  hands  to  do 
its  work  for  it.  It  cannot  request  reason  to  take  its  own 
place,  or  achieve  its  proper  results.  There  is  no  possibility 
of  devolution  here ;  it  cannot  delegate  its  functions  to  this 
faculty  or  to  tha"1  It  is  by  forgetting  this  that  so  many 
men  are  to  be  found,  at  the  close  of  many  arguments  of  which 
they  fully  acknowledge  the  convincing  force,  still  hovering 
on  the  brink  of  faith,  never  quite  reaching  it,  never  passing 
beyond  the  misery  of  a  prolonged  and  nerveless  suspense. 
They  hang  back  at  the  very  crisis,  because  they  have  hoped 
that  their  reasoning  powers  would,  by  their  own  force,  have 
made  belief  occur.  They  are  like  birds  on  a  bough,  who 
should  refuse  to  fly  until  they  have  fully  known  that  they 
can.  Their  suspense  would  break  and  pass,  if  once  they  re- 
membered that,  to  enter  the  T  ingdom  of  Heaven,  they  must 
always  be  as  little  children.  They  must  call  upon  the  child 
within  them.  At  the  end,  as  at  the  beginning,  of  all  the 
argumentative  work,  it  is  still  the  temper  of  a  child  which 
they  must  bring  into  play.  There  must  still  be  the  energy 
of  self-committal, — the  movement  of  a  brave  surrender.  Once 
let  them  turn,  enforced  by  all  the  pressure  of  reasonable 
evidence,  to  this  secret  fount  of  life  within  the  self,  and  back 
flows  the  strength  which  was  theirs  long  ago,  when  the  in- 
spiration of  their  innate  sonship  moved  sweetly  in  them, 
breeding  confidence,  secure  of  itself,  undaunted,  and  un- 
fatigued.  That  sonship  abides  in  us  all,  cumbered  and 
clouded  though  it  be  by  our  sin ;  it  abides  on  and  on,  fed  by 
the  succours  of  a  Father  Who  can  never  forget  or  forsake, 
and  Who  is  working  hitherto  to  recover  and  redeem.  And 
while  it  abides,  faith  is  still  possible.  For  its  native  motions 
are  the  spontaneous  outcome  of  that  spiritual  kinship  which, 
if  once  alive  and  free,  impels  us  towards  Him  by  Whose 
love  we  have  been  begotten.  Keason  and  feeling,  proof  and 
argument — these  are  means  and  instruments  by  which  we 

54  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

can  invoke  this  sonship  into  action,  and  release  it  from  much 
which  fetters  and  enslaves.  But  it  is  the  actual  upspringing 
force  of  the  sonship  itself,  which  alone  can  be  the  source  of 
belief.  And  as  it  is  given  to  all  to  be  sons  of  God,  through  the 
eternal  sonship  of  Christ,  therefore  it  is  open  to  all  to  count 
upon  possessing  the  conditions  of  faith  in  God. 

NOTE. — This  essay  has,  for  its  sole  aim,  the  reassurance  of  an  existing  faith  in 
face  of  temporary  perplexities.  It  therefore  takes  faith  as  a  present  and  possi- 
ble fact.  It  assumes  man  to  be  a  creature  who  believes.  And  it  tries  to  show 
why  such  belief,  if  it  be  there,  should  not  be  discouraged  by  difficulties 
which  belong  to  the  very  nature  of  its  original  grounds.  For  this  it  recalls 
the  depth  and  security  with  which  the  roots  of  faith  run  back  into  the  original 
constitution  of  man  ;  which  original  constitution,  however  broken,  thwarted, 
maimed,  polluted  by  sin,  remains  still  in  us  as  the  sole  pledge  and  ground 
of  our  possible  redemption  in  Christ,  Who  comes  to  restore  the  blurred 
image  of  God  in  us,  and  Who  must  find  in  us  the  radical  elements  of  the 
supernatural  nature  which  He  enters  to  renew.  To  its  enduring  existence 
in  the  heart  of  man  Christ  always  appeals.  Men  are  still  children  of  their 
Father  Who  is  in  heaven  ;  and  therefore  He  can  demand,  as  the  sole  and 
primal  condition  of  redemption,  Faith,  which  is  the  witness  of  the  unlost 
sonship.  That  faith  He  still  assumes  to  be  possible,  by  the  invitation  to 
man  to  believe  and  so  be  healed.  He  makes  this  invitation  just  as  if  it  were 
in  man's  own  power  to  respond  to  it  without  for  the  moment  touching  on 
the  necessity  which,  through  the  very  effort  to  believe,  man  will  discover  for 
himself— i.e.  the  necessity  of  God's  gift  of  the  Spirit  to  make  such  belie: 
exist.  Such  a  gift  belonged  to  the  original  condition  of  unfallen  man, 
when  his  nature  was  itself  supernaturally  endowed  with  its  adequate  an< 
sustaining  grace.  Such  a  gift  had  to  be  renewed,  after  the  ruin  wrought  by 
sin,  both  by  the  restoration  of  the  broken  sonship  within  the  man  throug. 
the  beloved  Son,  as  well  as  by  the  renewal  of  the  evoking  and  sustainin 
Spirit  that  should  lift  up,  from  within  the  inner  sonship,  its  living  cry  o: 
Abba,  Father.  The  right  to  believe,  and  the  power  to  believe,  had  both  to  be 

But  all  that  was  so  re-created  has,  for  its  preliminary  ground,  the  origina 
constitution  of  man's  sinless  nature  ;  and,  in  all  our  treatment  of  redem 
tion,  we  must  begin  by  recalling  what  it  was  which  Christ  entered  to  restore 
That  original  condition  was  the  pledge  of  the  recovery  which  God  woul 
bring  to  pass  ;  and,  throughout  the  interval  between  fall  and  rescue,  i 
could  anticipate  the  coming  Christ  by  the  faith  which  rejoiced  to  see  Hi 
Day,  and  saw  His  Glory,  and  spake  of  Him.  Therefore  the  faith  whic 
Christ  raises  to  its  new  and  higher  power  by  concentrating  it  upon  His  ow 
Personality,  is  still,  at  core,  the  old  faith  which  was  the  prophetic  witne: 
given,  under  the  conditions  of  the  earlier  covenant,  by  that  great  army  o: 
the  Faithful  which  is  marshalled  before  us  by  the  author  of  the  Epistle  t< 
the  Hebrews,  who  most  certainly  considers  it  possible  and  justifiable 
emphasise  the  continuity  that  holds  between  the  faith  of  Abraham  and  th 
faith  of  the  redeemed. 






I.  THE  object  of  this  essay  is  not  to  discuss  the  so-called 
'  proofs  '  of  the  existence  of  God,  but  to  shew  what  the  Chris- 
tian doctrine  of  God  is,  and  how  it  has  grown  to  be  what 
it  is,  out  of  the  antagonisms  of  earlier  days ;  and  then  to  ask 
—What  fuller  realization  of  God's  revelation  of  Himself  is 
He  giving  us  through  the  contradictions  and  struggles  of 
to-day  ?  If  it  is  true  that  '  the  only  ultimate  test  of  reality 
is  persistence,  and  the  only  measure  of  validity  among  our 
primitive  beliefs  the  success  with  which  they  resist  all  efforts 
to  change  them1,'  it  is  of  first  importance  to  discover  what 
it  is  which,  through  all  the  struggles  of  past  history,  the 
religious  nature  of  man  has  persistently  clung  to.  Much 
which  was  once  dear  to  the  religious  consciousness,  and 
which  seemed  at  the  time  to  be  an  integral  part  of  the 
religious  idea,  has  been  given  up.  A  former  age  abandoned 
it  with  regret,  and  looked  forward  with  gloomy  foreboding. 
A  later  age  looks  back  with  thankfulness,  and  recognises 
'  the  good  Hand  of  our  God '  leading  us  to  truer  knowledge 
of  Himself. 

It  would  be  idle  to  deny,  after  all  due  allowance  has  been 
made  for  the  natural  tendency  to  believe  that  the  present 
is  the  critical  moment,  not  only  for  us,  but  for  the  world 
at  large,  that  the  crisis  of  the  present  day  is  a  very  real  one, 
and  that  the  religious  view  of  God  is  feeling  the  effects  of 
the  change,  which  is  modifying  our  views  of  the  world  and 
man.  When  such  a  fundamental  idea  is  challenged,  men  are 

1  Fiske,  Idea  of  God,  p.  1 39,  quoting  H.  Spencer. 

58  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

naturally  tempted  to  adopt  one  of  two  equally  onesided 
attitudes,  to  commit  themselves  either  to  a  policy  of  unin- 
telligent protest,  or  to  a  policy  of  unconditional  surrender. 
And  if  the  one  is  needlessly  despairing,  the  other  is  un- 
warrantably sanguine.  The  one  asks, — 'How  much  must 
I  give  up,  of  what  religion  has  always  been  to  me,  that  a 
little  of  the  old  may  survive  amidst  the  new  1 '  The  other 
asks, — '  How  little  of  the  old  need  I  keep,  so  as  not  to  inter- 
fere with  the  ready  acceptance  of  the  new  ? '  The  one  view 
is  pessimist,  the  other  optimist.  Both  have  their  representa- 
tives in  our  day,  and  each  party  is  profoundly  conscious  of 
the  danger  to  which  the  other  is  exposed.  The  advocates  of 
the  one  view,  finding  themselves  '  in  a  place  where  two  seas 
meet/  think  it  safer  to  '  run  the  ship  aground '  ;  those  of  the 
other  '  seeing  they  cannot  bear  up  against  the  wind '  prefer 
to  '  let  her  drive.'  But  if  the  spirit  of  the  one  is  merely 
protestant,  the  spirit  of  the  other  is  certainly  not  catholic. 

In  contrast  with  these  one-sided  views,  we  propose  to 
approach  the  question  in  the  full  conviction  that  the  reve- 
lation of  God  in  Christ  is  both  true  and  complete,  and  yet 
that  every  new  truth  which  flows  in  from  the  side  of  science, 
or  metaphysics,  or  the  experience  of  social  and  political  life, 
is  designed  in  God's  providence  to  make  that  revelation  real, 
by  bringing  out  its  hidden  truths.  It  is  in  this  sense  that 
the  Christian  revelation  of  God  claims  to  be  both  final  and 
progressive ;  final,  for  Christians  know  but  one  Christ  and 
do  not  '  look  for  another ' ;  progressive,  because  Christianity 
claims  each  new  truth  as  enriching  our  knowledge  of  God, 
and  bringing  out  into  greater  clearness  and  distinctness  some 
half-understood  fragment  of  its  own  teaching.  There  are, 
no  doubt,  always  to  be  found  Christians,  who  are  ready  to 
treat  new  knowledge  as  the  Caliph  Omar  treated  the  books 
in  the  library  of  Alexandria, — 'they  agree  with  the  Koran 
and  are  unnecessary,  or  they  disagree  with  it  and  must  be 
destroyed.'  But  an  intelligent  Christian  will  not  ask,  '  Does 
this  new  truth  agree  with  or  contradict  the  letter  of  the 
Bible  ?  '  but  '  How  does  it  interpret  and  help  us  to  understand 
the  Bible  1 '  And  so  with  regard  to  all  truth,  whether  it 

ii.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  59 

comes  from  the  side  of  science,  or  history,  or  criticism,  he 
adopts  neither  the  method  of  protest  nor  the  method  of  sur- 
render, but  the  method  of  assimilation.  In  the  face  of  new 
discoveries,  the  only  question  he  is  anxious  to  answer  is  this, 
— '  What  old  truth  will  they  explain,  or  enlighten,  or  make  real 
to  us?  What  is  this  new  world  of  life  and  interest  which 
is  awaiting  its  consecration  ?  "  Truth  is  an  ever-flowing 
river,  into  which  streams  flow  in  from  many  sides1."  What 
is  this  new  stream  which  is  about  to  empty  itself,  as  all 
knowledge  must,  into  the  great  flood  of  Divine  truth,  "  that 
the  earth  may  be  filled  with  the  glory  of  the  Lord,  as  the 
waters  cover  the  sea  "  ? ' 

Such  a  hopeful  attitude  does  not,  indeed,  imply  that  the 
assimilation  of  the  new  truths  will  go  on  as  a  matter  of 
course.  The  Christian  knows  that  the  acceptance  of  truth 
is  a  moral,  as  well  as  an  intellectual,  matter,  and  in  the  moral 
world  there  is  no  place  for  laisser  faire.  He  expects  to  be 
called  upon  to  struggle ;  he  expects  that  the  struggle  will 
need  his  utmost  effort,  moral  and  intellectual.  His  work 
is  both  to  keep  and  to  claim ;  to  hold  fast  the  faith  '  once 
for  all  delivered  to  the  saints,'  and  yet  to  see  in  every  frag- 
ment of  truth  a  real  revelation  of  the  mind  and  will  of  God. 
He  has  no  cut  and  dried  answer  to  objections ;  he  does  not 
boast  that  he  has  no  difficulties.  But  he  does  claim  to  look 
out  upon  the  difficulties  of  his  day,  not  only  fearlessly,  but 
with  hope  and  trust.  He  knows  that  Christianity  must 
triumph  in  the  end,  but  he  does  not  expect  all  difficulties 
to  be  removed  in  a  moment.  And  he  is  strong  enough,  if 
need  be,  to  wait. 

II.  Whether  anyone  is  really  guilty  of  what  Hume  calls 
the  '  multiplied  indiscretion  and  imprudence '  of  dogmatic 
atheism,  whether  positivism  can  rightly  be  so  classed,  whether 
agnosticism  is  not  atheism  to  all  intents  and  purposes,  are 
questions  which  fortunately  lie  outside  the  scope  of  the 
present  enquiry.  As  for  polytheism  it  has  ceased  to  exist 
in  the  civilised  world.  Every  theist  is,  by  a  rational  neces- 
sity, a  monotheist.  But  we  find  ourselves,  in  the  present  day, 

1  S.  Clem.  Alex.  Strom.  I.  v. 

60  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

face  to  face  with  two  different  views  of  God,  which  though 
they  constantly,  perhaps  generally,  overlap,  and  even  some- 
times coincide,  yet  imply  different  points  of  view,  and  by 
a  process  of  abstraction  can  be  held  apart  and  contrasted 
with  one  another.  Many  devout  Christians  are  philosophers 
and  men  of  science ;  many  men  of  science  and  philosophers 
are  devout  Christians.  But  the  God  of  religion  is  not  the 
God  of  science  and  philosophy.  Ideally,  everyone  will  allow 
that  the  relic  'ous  idea  of  God,  and  the  scientific  and  philo- 
sophical idea  of  God  must  be  identical,  but  in  actual  fact 
it  is  not  so,  and  in  the  earlier  stages  of  the  development  of 
both,  there  is  a  real  antagonism.  To  accept  this  antagonism 
as  absolute  is,  by  a  necessary  consequence,  to  compel  one 
to  give  way  to  the  other.  We  cannot  long  hold  two  con- 
tradictory truths.  We  find  ourselves  compelled  to  choose. 
We  may  have  Religion  or  Philosophy,  but  not  both. 

Very  few,  however,  are  prepared  to  go  this  length.  It  is 
much  more  usual  to  get  rid  of  the  antagonism  by  adopting 
one  of  two  alternative  m  ;ho*ls. 

(i)  Of  these  the  first  is  a  suggested  division  of  territory, 
in  which  religion  is  allotted  to  faith,  and  philosophy  and 
science  to  reason.  Such  an  expedient,  though  not  uncom- 
monly, and  perhaps  even  wisely,  adopted  by  individuals, 
who  refuse  to  give  up  either  of  two  truths  because  they 
cannot  harmonize  them,  becomes  ridiculous  when  seriously 
proposed  as  a  solution  of  the  difficulty.  Moreover  the  pro- 
posed division  of  territory  is  unfair  to  start  with.  '  Give 
us  the  Knowable,  and  you  shall  have  the  rest,  which  is  far 
the  larger  half,'  sounds  like  a  liberal  offer  made  by  science 
to  religion,  till  we  remember  that  every  advance  in  know- 
ledge transfers  something  from  the  side  of  the  unknown  to 
the  side  of  the  known,  in  violation  of  the  original  agreement. 
Mr.  Herbert  Spencer  calls  this  division  of  territory  a  '  recon- 
ciliation1.' But  if  anything  in  the  world  could  make  religion 
hate  and  fear  science  and  oppose  the  advance  of  knowledge, 
it  is  to  find  itself  compelled  to  sit  still  and  watch  the  slow 
but  sure  filching  away  of  its  territory  by  an  alien  power. 

1  Cf.  Herbert  Spencer,  First  Principles,  Pt.  I. 

ii.      The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  61 

We  say  nothing  here  of  the  fact  that  Mr.  Herbert  Spencer's 
division  ignores  the  truth  that  knowledge  of  correlatives 
must  be  of  the  same  kind1,  and  that  if  knowledge  has  to 
do  with  one  and  faith  with  the  other,  either  faith  must  be 
a  sort  of  knowledge,  or  knowledge  a  sort  of  faith.  We  merely 
notice  the  unfairness  of  a  division  which  assumes  rationality 
for  science,  and  leaves  irrationality  to  religion. 

Curiously  enough,  however,  there  are  many  devout  people, 
who  would  be  horrified  at  the  thought  that  they  had  borrowed 
from  Agnosticism,  and  who  have  nevertheless  made  a  simi- 
lar division  of  territory.  They  are  the  people  who  stake  all 
upon  what  reason  cannot  do.  They  have  no  interest  in  the 
progress  of  knowledge.  The  present  gaps  in  science  are  their 
stronghold,  and  they  naturally  resist  every  forward  step  in 
knowledge  as  long  as  they  can,  because  each  new  discovery 
limits  the  area  in  which  alone,  according  to  their  imperfect 
view,  faith  can  live.  Every  triumph  of  science  on  this 
theory,  as  on  Mr.  Herbert  Spencer's,  becomes  a  loss,  not  a  gain, 
to  religion.  The  very  existence  of  God  is  bound  up  with  that 
part  of  His  work  in  nature  which  we  cannot  understand,  and, 
as  a  consequence,  we  reach  the  paradox  that  the  more  we 
know  of  His  working,  the  less  proof  we  have  that  He  exists. 
Modern  apologetic  literature  abounds  in  this  kind  of  argu- 
ment. It  is  the  devout  form  of  the  worship  of  the  unknow- 
able. Yet  it  is  no  wonder  that  people  who  take  refuge  in 
gaps  find  themselves  awkwardly  placed  when  the  gaps  begin 
to  close. 

(2)  The  other  alternative  is  even  more  commonly  adopted, 
for  it  fits  in  well  with  the  vagueness  and  want  of  precision 
in  language,  which  is  at  a  premium  in  dealing  with  religious 
questions.  This  consists  in  frittering  away  the  meaning  of 
definite  terms  till  they  are  available  for  anything,  or  adopting 
a  neutral  term  which,  by  a  little  management  and  stretching, 
will  include  opposites.  This  is  the  method  of  indefinite  in- 
clusion. The  strength  of  the  former  alternative  lay  in  the 
appearance  pf  sharp  scientific  delimitation  of  territory:  the 
strength  of  the  latter  in  its  unlimited  comprehensiveness. 

1  See  this  criticism  excellently  stated  in  Caird's  Phil,  of  Religion,  pp.  32,  etc. 

62  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

A  term  is  gradually  stripped  of  the  associations  which  make 
it  what  it  is,  it  is  '  defecated  to  a  pure  transparency,'  and 
then  it  is  ready  for  use.  The  term  '  God '  is  made  merely  '  a 
synonym  for  nature  : '  ;  religion  becomes  '  habitual  and  per- 
manent admiration 2,'  or  '  devout  submission  of  the  heart  and 
will  to  the  laws  of  nature  3  ' ;  enthusiasm  does  duty  for  wor- 
ship, and  the  antagonism  between  religion  and  anything  else 

Now  so  far  as  this  represents,  negatively,  a  reaction  against 
intolerance  and  narrowness,  and  positively  a  desire  for  unity, 
there  is  not  a  word  to  be  said  against  it.  Its  tone  and  temper 
may  be  both  Christian  and  Catholic.  But  the  method  is  a 
radically  false  one.  It  is  not  a  real,  but  only  an  abstract, 
unity  which  can  be  reached  by  thinking  away  of  differences. 
As  Dr.  Martineau  says,  in  his  excellent  criticism  of  this 
method,  '  You  vainly  propose  an  eirenicon  by  corruption  of  a 
word.'  '  The  disputes  between  science  and  faith  can  no  more 
be  closed  by  inventing  "  religions  of  culture  "  than  the  boun- 
dary quarrels  of  nations  by  setting  up  neutral  provinces  in 
the  air4.'  'A  God  that  is  merely  nature,  a  Theism  without 
God,  a  Religion  forfeited  only  by  the  "nil  admirari "  can  never 
reconcile  the  secular  and  the  devout,  the  Pagan  and  the  Chris- 
tian mind  5.'  As  well  might  we  attempt  to  reconcile  the  par- 
tizans  of  the  gold  and  silver  shields  by  assuring  them  that  in 
reality  the  shields  were  silver  gilt. 

We  are  left,  then,  face  to  face  with  the  opposition  between 
the  religious  and  the  philosophic  or  scientific  view  of  God. 
The  counter-charges  of  superstition  and  anthropomorphism 
on  the  one  side,  and  of  pantheism  and  rationalism  on  the 
other,  serve  to  bring  out  the  antithesis  of  the  two  views. 
No  division  of  territory  is  possible.  There  may  be  many 
sciences,  each  with  its  defined  range  of  subject-matter ;  but 
there  can  be  only  one  God.  And  both  religion  and  philo- 
sophy demand  that  He  shall  fill  the  whole  region  of  thought 
and  feeling.  Nor  can  any  confusion  or  extension  of  terms 

1  Natural  Religion,  iii.  p.  45,  quoted       Address,  1884. 

by  Martineau.  *  A  Study  of  Religion,  vol.  i.  pp.  n,  12. 

2  Ibid.,  iv.  p.  74.  5  Ibid.,  p.  15. 

3  Frederic    Harrison's    Nvic    Year's 

ii.      The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  63 

help  us  to  a  reconciliation,  or  blind  us  long  to  the  true  issue. 
The  conflict  is  too  real  and  too  keenly  felt  to  admit  of  any 
patched-up  peace.  The  idea  of  God,  which  is  to  claim  alike 
the  allegiance  of  religion  and  philosophy,  must  not  be  the 
result  of  compromise,  but  must  really  and  fully  satisfy  the 
demands  of  both. 

III.  What  then  are  these  demands  considered  in  abstraction 
from  one  another?  We  are  at  once  met  by  the  difficulty 
of  defining  religion.  But  if  we  cannot  define  religion,  or 
trace  it  back  to  its  hidden  source,  we  can  at  least  dis- 
cover its  characteristics,  as  we  know  it  after  it  has  emerged 
from  the  obscurity  of  prehistoric  times,  and  before  any  con- 
scious attempt  has  been  made  to  reconcile  religion  and  philo- 
sophy, or  find  a  middle  term  between  them. 

Now  traditional  definitions  of  religion,  given  as  it  were 
from  within,  and  constructed  with  no  view  of  opposition  to, 
or  reconciliation  with,  philosophy,  are  agreed  in  representing 
religion  as  a  relation  between  man  and  the  object  or  objects 
of  his  worship,  and  this  implies,  not  only  the  inferiority  of  the 
worshipper  to  that  which  he  worships,  but  also  something  of 
likeness  between  the  related  terms,  since,  as  even  Strauss 
allows,  in  our  inmost  nature  we  feel  a  kinship  between 
ourselves  and  that  on  which  we  depend1.  It  is  quite  indif- 
ferent which  of  the  rival  etymologies  of  the  word  '  religion ' 
we  adopt 2.  S.  Augustine 3,  following  Lactantius,  speaks  of 
religion  as  '  the  bond  which  binds  us  to  One  Omnipotent 
God.'  S.  Thomas 4  adopts  almost  unchanged  the  definition 
given  by  Cicero :  it  is  '  that  virtue  which  has  to  do  with  the 
worship  of  a  higher  nature  known  as  the  Divine.'  It  is  not 
too  much  to  say  that,  for  the  modern  religious  world,  religion 
implies  at  least  the  practical  belief  in  a  real  and  conscious 
relation  between  the  inner  life  of  man  and  an  unseen  Being. 
And  whatever  of  mystery  there  may  be  about  that  unseen 
Being,  it  would  seem  as  if  a  real  relationship  demands  so  much 
of  likeness  in  the  related  terms,  as  is  implied  in  personality. 

1  Old  Faith  and  New,  §  41.  pretatus  est,  a  relegendo,'  Lact.  Inst. 

2  'Hoc  vinculo  pietatis  obstricti  Deo       iv.  28. 

et  rdiguti  sumus,  unde   ipsa  religio  3  De  verd  religions,  sub  fin. 

noinon  accepit,  non  ut  Cicero  inter-  4  Sum.  Theol.  2.  2.  81.  Art.  i. 

64  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

It  is  here  that  we  reach  the  point  at  which  we  are  able  to 
distinguish  between  the  religious  and  the  philosophical  ideas 
of  God.  It  is  not  that  religion  and  philosophy  necessarily 
contradict  or  exclude  one  another,  but  that  they  approach 
the  problem  with  different  interests.  Religion  demands  a 
personal  object,  be  that  object  one  or  many.  It  is  committed 
to  the  belief  in  a  moral  relationship  between  God  and  man. 
Philosophy  demands  unity,  whether  personal  or  impersonal. 
For  philosophy  is  nothing  if  it  does  not  completely  unify 
knowledge.  And  it  seems  as  if  each  finds  lacking  in  the 
other  that  which  it  values  most  and  thinks  of  first.  The  only 
hope,  then,  of  reconciliation  is  in  the  idea  of  God  as  per- 
sonal, and  yet  one.  So  long  as  religion  retains  a  trace  of 
polytheism  or  dualism,  philosophy  can  have  nothing  to  say 
to  it.  So  long  as  philosophy  has  no  room  for  a  personal 
God,  religion  must  exclude  philosophy.  The  whole  issue  of 
the  controversy  lies  here.  If  the  belief  in  a  personal  God 
is  to  be  called  anthropomorphism,  religion  is  hopelessly  an- 
thropomorphic. With  the  disappearance  of  anthropomorphism 
in  this  sense,  as  Professor  Fiske  rightly  sees1,  religion  dis- 
appears. But  we  cannot  escape  anthropomorphism,  though 
our  anthropomorphism  may  be  crude  or  critical 2.  We  do 
not  read  our  full  selves  into  the  lower  world,  because  we  are 
higher  than  it ;  we  do  not  transfer  to  God  all  that  belongs 
to  our  own  self-consciousness,  because  we  know  that  He  is 
infinitely  greater  than  we  are.  But  we  should  be  wrong  not 
to  interpret  Him  by  the  highest  category  within  our  reach, 
and  think  of  Him  as  self-conscious  life.  Christianity  refuses 
to  call  this  anthropomorphism,  though  it  stands  or  falls  with 
the  belief  that,  in  his  personality,  man  is  in  the  image  of 
God.  An  anthropomorphic  view  of  God  for  a  Christian 
means  heathenism  or  heresy :  a  theomorphic  view  of  man 
is  of  the  essence  of  his  faith  3. 

The  religious  idea  of  God  may,  of  course,  become  philo- 

1  Idea  of  God,  p.  117.     .  3  Justin  Martyr  (Exhort,  ad  Graec., 

2  See    Seth's   Hegdiunism    and   Per-  ch.    xxxiv)    explains    the    anthropo- 
sonality,  pp.  223,  224,  one  or  two  sen-  morphisms  of  polytheism  as  an  in- 
tences  from  which  are,  almost  ver-  version  of  the  truth  that  man  is  in 
batim,  transferred  to  the  text.  the  image  of  God. 

ii,     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  65 

sophical  without  ceasing  to  be  religious.  If  there  is  to  be  a 
religion  for  man  as  a  rational  being  it  must  become  so.  But 
there  is  a  point  beyond  which,  in  its  desire  to  include  philo- 
sophy, religion  cannot  go.  It  cannot  afford  to  give  up  its 
primary  assumption  of  a  moral  relationship  between  God 
and  man.  When  that  point  is  surrendered  or  obscured  the 
old  religious  terms  become  increasingly  inapplicable,  and  we 
find  ourselves  falling  back  more  and  more  on  their  supposed 
philosophical  equivalents,  the  '  Infinite '  or  the  '  Absolute,'  or 
the  Universal  Substance,  or  the  Eternal  Consciousness,  or  the 
First  Cause,  or  the  Omnipresent  Energy.  But  these  terms, 
which  metaphysicians  rightly  claim,  have  no  meaning  for 
the  religious  consciousness,  while,  in  metaphysics  proper 
'  God '  is  as  much  a  borrowed  term  as  '  sin '  is  in  non-reli- 
gious ethics.  Moral  evil  is  '  sin '  only  to  those  who  believe 
in  God  ;  and  the  infinite  is  only  '  God '  to  those  in  whom  it 
suggests  a  superhuman  personality  with  whom  they  are  in 
conscious  relation.  Even  when  religion  and  philosophy  both 
agree  to  speak  of  God  as  '  the  Infinite,'  for  the  one  it  is  an  ad- 
jective, for  the  other  a  substantive.  The  moment  we  abandon 
the  idea  of  God  as  personal,  religion  becomes  merged  in  philo- 
sophy, and  all  that  properly  constitutes  religion  disappears. 
God  may  exist  for  us  still  as  the  keystone  in  the  arch  of 
knowledge,  but  He  is  no  longer,  except  as  a  metaphor,  '  our 
Father,  which  is  in  heaven.' 

IV.  Religion  then,  properly  and  strictly,  and  apart  from  ex- 
tensions of  the  term  made  in  the  interests  of  a  reconciliation, 
assumes  a  moral  relationship,  the  relationship  of  personal 
beings,  as  existing  between  man  and  the  Object  of  his  wor- 
ship. When  this  ceases,  religion  ceases :  when  this  begins, 
religion  begins.  But  of  the  beginnings  of  religion  we  know 
nothing.  Prehistoric  history  is  the  monopoly  of  those  who 
have  a  theory  to  defend.  But  we  may  take  it  as  proven  that 
it  is  at  least  as  true  that  man  is  a  religious,  as  that  he  is 
a  rational,  animal.  'Look  out  for  a  people,'  says  Hume, 
'entirely  destitute  of  religion.  If  you  find  them  at  all,  be 
assured  that  they  are  but  few  degrees  removed  from  brutes  V 

1  Hume,  Essays,  II.  425. 

66  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

Hume's  statement  is  confirmed  by  the  fact  that  those  who 
would  prove  that  there  is  no  innate  consciousness  of  Deity 
are  driven  to  appeal  to  the  case  of  deaf  mutes  and  degraded 
savages 1.  Whether  monotheism  was  a  discovery  or  a  re- 
covery, whether  it  rose  on  the  ruins  of  polytheism,  or 
whether  polytheism  is  a  corruption  of  a  purer  faith,  is  a 
question  we  need  not  attempt  to  settle.  Nor  need  we  de- 
cide the  priority  of  claim  to  the  title  of  religion  as  between 
nature-worship,  or  ancestor-worship,  or  ghost-worship.  The 
farther  we  go  back  in  history  the  more  obviously  true 
is  the  charge  of  anthropomorphism  so  commonly  brought 
against  religion.  The  natural  tendency  to  treat  the  object 
of  religion  as  personal  exists  long  before  any  attempt  is 
made  to  define  the  conditions  or  meaning  of  personality, 
and  includes  much  which  is  afterwards  abandoned.  For 
religion  in  its  earliest  stages  is  instinctive,  not  reasoned. 
It  is  'naively  objective.'  It  is  little  careful  to  clear  up  its 
idea  of  the  nature  and  character  of  its  God.  It  is  still  less 
anxious  to  prove  His  existence.  It  is  only  when  conscience 
grows  strong,  and  dares  to  challenge  the  religion  which  had 
been  instinctively  accepted,  that  men  learn  to  see  that  God 
not  only  is,  but  must  be,  the  expression  of  the  highest  known 
morality.  It  is  only  when  the  light  of  conscious  reason  is 
turned  back  upon  religious  ideas,  that  polytheism  becomes 
not  merely  untrue,  but  impossible  and  inconceivable.  What 
religion  starts  with  is  not  any  theory  of  the  world,  but  an 
unreasoned  belief  in  a  Being  or  beings,  however  conceived  of, 
who  shall  be  in  a  greater  or  less  degree  like  the  worshipper, 
but  raised  above  him  by  the  addition  of  power,  if  not 
omnipotence;  greatness,  if  not  infinity;  wisdom,  if  not  omni- 

But,  while  implying  from  the  first  something  of  a  moral 
relationship  between  man  and  the  object  of  his  worship,  reli- 
gion does  not  always  conceive  of  that  Object  as  necessarily 
holy  or  perfectly  wise.  There  are  religions  which  are  both 
immoral  and  childish.  They  have  in  them  no  principle  of 
growth,  and  therefore  they  are  the  opponents  alike  of  moral 

1  H.  Spencer,  Eccl.  Inst,  p.  I. 

ii.      The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  67 

and  intellectual  progress.  Tantuin  relligio  potuit  suadere 
malorum  is  the  reflexion  of  Christian  apologists,  as  well  as  of 
the  Roman  poet,  on  the  religions  of  heathenism.  Hence,  it  is 
argued,  '  Religion  is  the  enemy  of  morals  and  of  science. 
Away  with  it.  It  is  a  mere  matter  of  feeling,  which  cannot 
and  ought  not  to  stand  before  the  imperious  challenge  of  con- 
science and  reason.'  Such  a  view  has  both  truth  and  falsehood 
in  it.  The  religious  idea  of  God  must  be  able  to  justify  itself 
to  our  moral  and  to  our  rational  nature,  on  pain  of  ceasing  to 
exist.  But  religion  cannot  be  thus  shut  up  to  one  part  of  our 
nature,  nor  can  one  part  of  our  nature  be  set  against  the 
rest.  There  is,  as  Herbert  Spencer  is  fond  of  pointing  out  *, 
a  kind  of  idolatry  of  reason  in  the  present  day.  Reason  has 
exposed  many  superstitions  only  to  become  itself  the  final  object 
of  superstition.  Men  forget  that,  after  all,  reasoning  is  only 
'  re-coordinating  states  of  consciousness  already  coordinated 
in  certain  simpler  ways,'  and  that  that  which  is  unreasoned  is 
not  always  irrational.  Rationality  in  man  is  not  shut  up  in 
one  air-tight  compartment.  '  There  is  no  feeling  or  volition 
which  does  not  contain  in  it  an  element  of  knowledge  -.'  This 
is  the  truth  which  Hegel  has  seized  when  he  speaks  of  religion 
as  '  reason  talking  naively.'  You  can  no  more  shut  up  faith 
to  the  compartment  of  feeling  than  reason  to  the  compartment 
of  the  intellect.  Religion  claims  the  whole  man,  and  true 
religion  is  that  which  can  make  good  its  claim. 

The  natural  history  of  religion,  then,  is  the  history  of  the 
process  by  which  that  which  has  its  secret  birthplace  behind 
all  the  distinctions  of  modern  psychology,  establishes  its  claim 
on  man,  absorbing  into  itself  all  that  is  best  and  truest  in  his 
moral  and  intellectual  being,  as  conscience  and  reason  succes- 
sively emerge  into  conscious  activity :  while,  from  another 
point  of  view,  it  is  the  progressive  purification  of  the  religious 
idea  of  God  till  He  is  revealed  as,  what  He  is  to  a  thinking 
Christian  of  to-day,  the  Object  of  reverent  worship,  the  moral 
ideal,  the  truth  of  nature  and  of  man. 

Such  an  end  is  not  attained  in  a  moment.     It  is  the  result 

1  Psych,  vol.  ii.  §§  388-391.  2  Caird,  Philosophy  of  Religion,  p.  162. 

F    2 

68  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

of  a  process  with  which  we  are  familiar  elsewhere,  viz.  evolu- 
tion by  antagonism.  The  true  has  to  be  separated  from  the 
false.  Immoral  and  irrational  conceptions  of  God  have  to  be 
thrown  aside.  It  is  only  after  what  looks  like  an  internecine 
struggle  between  religion  and  morality  that  man  learns  the 
truth  about  the  character  of  God,  and  only  after  a  conflict 
with  philosophy  and  science,  which  seems  to  threaten  the  very 
life  of  religion,  that  he  learns  what  can  be  known  of  the 
Divine  Nature.  For  among  religions,  too,  there  is  a  struggle 
for  existence,  in  which  the  fittest  survive.  And  the  test  of 
fitness  is  the  power  to  assimilate  and  promote  moral  and 
intellectual  truth,  and  so  to  satisfy  the  whole  man.  An 
ideally  perfect  religion  is  not  '  morality  touched  by  emotion,' 
but  a  worship  which  reflects  itself  in  the  highest  known 
morality,  and  is  interpreted  and  justified  to  itself  by  reason. 
It  is  this  process,  as  we  know  it  in  history,  that  we  proceed 
to  examine. 

V.  The  statement  that  religion,  even  in  its  most  elementary 
forms,  takes  for  granted  some  relationship  of  likeness  between 
the  worshipper  and  the  Object  or  objects  of  his  worship, 
by  no  means  implies  that  all  religion  associates  the  highest 
morality  with  its  idea  of  God.  On  the  contrary,  we  know 
that  not  only  are  there  immoral  religions,  but  that  immorality 
sometimes  lingers  on  in  religion  long  after  it  is  condemned 
elsewhere,  and  that  a  people  will  permit  as  a  religious  duty 
what,  according  to  their  thinking,  nothing  but  religion  would 
justify.  We  cannot,  then,  at  all  accurately  gauge  the  moral 
condition  of  a  people  by  the  received  teaching  about  its  gods, 
for  morality  is  often  far  in  advance  of  religion,  and  the  char- 
acter which  in  a  god  or  goddess  is  protected  by  a  religious 
halo  is  looked  upon  as  hateful  or  impure  in  man  or  woman. 
The  sense  of  dependence,  which,  though  it  does  not  constitute 
the  whole,  is  yet  an  essential  element  in  the  religious  con- 
sciousness, the  awe  which,  in  a  low  state  of  development, 
shews  itself  in  a  grovelling  fear  of  the  invisible  beings, 
makes  it  impossible  for  the  worshipper  to  judge  his  god 
by  the  standard  he  applies  to  his  fellow  man.  The  god 
may  be  lustful,  but  his  lusts  must  be  respected ;  he  is  strong 

ii.      The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  69 

and  vengeful  and  must  by  all  means  be  kept  in  a  good  temper, 
cajoled,  or  outwitted,  or  bribed,  or  humoured.  His  commands 
must  be  obeyed,  without  question  or  resistance.  But  by  and 
bye  the  moral  nature  learns  its  strength,  and  begins  to  assert 
its  independent  right  to  speak.  Morality  outgrows  religion. 
The  relations  between  religion  and  morals  become  more 
strained.  Some  heretic  dares  to  say  that  the  Gods  are 
immoral ;  that  they  are  men  '  writ  large,'  and  bad  men  too. 
Their  claim  to  reverence  is  challenged.  There  is  a  moral 
awakening.  Soon  the  old  religion  is  treated  with  scorn  and 
contempt,  and  either  a  new  religion  takes  its  place,  coming 
in  as  it  were  on  the  crest  of  the  wave  of  moral  reformation,  or 
the  old  religion  is  purified  and  becomes  the  foster-mother  of 
the  new  morality,  giving  to  it  a  divine  sanction,  and  receiving 
from  it  in  turn  new  strength  and  vitality.  Or  failing  these, 
men  abandon  religion  in  the  supposed  interest  of  morals.  A 
religion  with  mysteries  may  be  tolerated,  but  a  religion  once 
seen  to  be  immoral  is  at  an  end.  For  a  time  ethics,  with  a 
background  of  metaphysics  or  politics,  prevails,  but  gradually 
it  tends  to  drift  into  a  mere  prudentialism,  while  a  merely 
mystical  philosophy  tries  in  vain  to  satisfy  those  deeper 
instincts  which  reach  out  to  the  unseen. 

In  the  history  of  Greek  thought  the  collision  came  in  the 
days  of  Xenophanes.  Long  before  what  is  sometimes  called 
the  era  of  conscious  morality,  Greece  had  outgrown  its  tradi- 
tional religion.  Greek  philosophy  at  its  birth  was  mythology 
rationalized,  and  the  beginning  of  independent  morality  in 
Greece  shewed  itself  in  a  criticism  of  the  religious  teaching 
of  Homer  and  Hesiod.  The  scathing  satire  of  Xenophanes 
reminds  us  at  times  of  the  way  in  which  Isaiah  speaks  of  the 
idolatry  of  his  day.  It  is  not  only  wrong,  it  is  capable  of 
a  reductio  ad  absurdum.  Anthropomorphism,  immorality, 
childish  folly  —  these  are  the  charges  which  Xenophanes 
brings  against  the  worship  of  Magna  Graecia.  Anaxagoras 
had  already  been  banished  for  suggesting  that  the  god  Helios 
was  a  mass  of  molten  iron,  but  Xenophanes  turns  into  open 
ridicule  the  religion  of  his  day. 

'  Homer  and  Hesiod,'  he  says,  '  ascribe  to  the  gods  all  that 

70  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

among  men  is  held  shameful  and  blameworthy,  theft,  adultery, 
and  deceit  V 

'One  God  there  is  mightiest  among  gods  and  men,  who 
neither  in  form  nor  thought  is  like  to  men.  Yet  mortals 
think  the  gods  are  born  and  have  shape  and  voice  and 
raiment  like  themselves.  Surely  if  lions  and  cows  had  hands, 
and  could  grave  with  their  hands  and  do  as  men  do,  they  too 
would  make  gods  like  themselves,  horses  would  have  horse- 
like  gods,  and  cows  gods  with  horns  and  hoofs  V 

When  the  age  of  moral  philosophy  begins,  amidst  the  un- 
settlement  of  the  sophistic  period,  the  same  protest  is  taken 
up  by  Plato.  In  Xenophanes  the  protest  of  the  reason  and 
the  conscience  went  together.  In  Plato  the  criticism  of  the 
received  theology  is  more  distinctly  a  moral  criticism.  God 
cannot  lie  or  deceive.  He  cannot  be  the  cause  of  evil.  He 
is  good,  and  only  the  source  of  good.  He  is  true  in  word 
and  deed.  If  not,  we  cannot  reverence  Him.  It  cannot  be 
true  that  the  gods  give  way  to  violent  emotions,  still  less  to 
sensuality  and  envy  and  strife3.  Tor  God  cannot  be  un- 
righteous, He  must  be  perfectly  righteous,  and  none  is  like 
Him  save  the  most  righteous  among  men  4.' 

Here  we  have  a  collision  between  an  immoral  religious 
conception  of  God  and  a  morality  which  is  becoming  con- 
scious of  its  own  strength.  And  what  was  the  result1? 
Religion  in  Greece  received  its  death  blow.  It  had  no  real 
recuperative  power.  It  could  not  absorb  and  claim  the  new 
morality.  Homer  and  Hesiod,  the  '  Bible '  of  the  Athenian, 
were  too  profoundly  immoral.  A  Kephalus  might  go  back 
in  silent  protest  to  his  sacrifice,  but  the  youth  of  Athens 
turned  from  religion  to  morality.  When  we  pass  from  Plato 
to  Aristotle,  the  last  trace  of  religion  in  morals  has  dis- 
appeared. Theology  has  become  Metaphysics,  and  has  no  place 
in  the  world  of  practical  life.  The  religious  element  has 
disappeared  from  philosophy,  and  is  only  revived  in  the 
mysticism  of  Neo-Pythagoreanism  and  Neo-Platonism.  In 

1  Ritter    and    Preller,    Hist.    Phil.  3  Plat.  Rep.  377-385. 
Gra«c.,  7th  ed.  §  82.  *  Thaet.  176  C. 

2  Ibid.,  §  83. 

ii.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  71 

metaphysics  and  science  we  owe  everything  to  the  Greeks; 
in  religion,  as  distinguished  from  theology,  we  owe  nothing. 

From  the  Greeks  we  turn  to  the  Jews,  to  whom  alone, 
among  the  nations  of  the  pre-Christian  age,  we  of  the  modern 
world  trace  back  our  religious  lineage.  We  speak  of  the 
religion  of  the  Old  Testament  as  '  revealed '  in  contrast  with 
all  other  pre-Christian  religions.  Is  that  distinction  tenable  ? 
If  so,  what  does  it  mean,  and  what  justifies  us  in  making  it  ? 
It  is  clear  that  the  answer  must  be  sought  in  what  the  Old 
Testament  revelation  is,  rather  than  in  the  process  by  which 
the  Jews  became  the  appointed  depositaries  of  it.  For  what- 
ever were  the  prehistoric  elements  out  of  which  the  religion 
of  Israel  came,  whether  Assyrian  or  Accadian  or  Indo-German 
or  Egyptian,  and  whatever  were  the  steps  by  which  Israel 
was  led  *  to  that  doctrine  of  God  which  constituted  its  mis- 
sion and  its  message  to  the  world,  as  we  look  back  from  the 
point  of  view  of  Christianity  we  see  that  the  religion  of  Israel 
stands  to  the  teaching  of  Christ  in  a  relation  in  which  no 
Pagan  religion  stands  2.  The  Law  and  the  Prophets  were  for 
all  the  world  '  a  sacred  school  of  the  knowledge  of  God,  and 
the  ordering  of  the  soul 3.'  If  it  is  true  that  the  Bible  only 
records  the  later  and  more  important  stages  in  a  process 
which  began  in  prehistoric  times  amidst  the  various  forms 
of  polytheistic  worship,  even  if  it  could  be  shewn  that  the 
history,  as  we  have  it,  has  been  subjected  to  successive  re- 
visions, that  its  laws  have  been  codified,  its  ritual  elaborated, 
its  symbolism  interpreted,  it  would  still  remain  true  that  the 
religion  of  Israel,  which  begins  where  its  history  begins,  and 
of  which,  indeed,  its  history  is  little  more  than  the  vehicle,  is 

1  H.    Spencer,    of   course,   follows  tianity  is   connected   with    the   Old 
Kuenen  in  assuming  a   polytheistic  Testament.'      Incredible,  no    doubt, 
origin  of  Hebrew  monotheism.     See  But  why  ?  For  the  very  reason  which 
Kuenen,  Religion  of  Israel,  i.  223.  makes  it  'incredible' that  man  should 

2  It   is   strange    that   Mr.  Darwin  be   evolved   directly  from  a  fish,  as 
should  have  failed  to  see  that  this  Anaximander  is  said  to  have  taught, 
was  the  answer  to  his  difficulty.     It  and  not  incredible  that  he  should  be 
appeared  to  him,  he  tells  us  (Auto-  evolved,    as    Darwin    teaches,   from 
biography,  p.  308),  'utterly  incredible  one  of  the  higher  vertebrates.     The 
that  if  God  were  now  to  make  a  re-  very  idea  of  development,  whether  in 
velation   to  the  Hindoos,   he  would  species  or  religions,  implies  a  law,  and 
permit  it  to  be  connected  with  the  order  in  the  development. 

belief  in  Vishnu,  Siva,  &c.,  as  Chris-  3  S.  Athan.  De  Incarn.  c.  xiL 

72  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

bound  up  with  the  assertion  of  Monotheism.  The  central  fact 
of  its  revelation  is  this,  '  Hear,  O  Israel,  the  Lord  our  God  is 
One  Lord.'  The  central  utterance  of  its  law  is,  '  Thou  shalt 
have  none  other  gods  but  Me.'  The  unity  of  God,  that  truth 
which  other  religions  were  feeling  after  and  tending  towards, 
stands  out  clearly  and  distinctly  as  the  characteristic  of  the 
religion  of  Israel,  and  is  fearlessly  claimed  as  an  inheritance 
from  the  patriarchal  age. 

And  not  less  remarkable  than  the  assertion  of  the  unity 
of  God  is  the  assumption  that  this  One  God  is  a  God  of 
Righteousness.  He  is  '  a  God  of  truth  and  without  iniquity  ; 
just  and  right  is  He.'  Here,  again,  it  was  not  that  the  re- 
ligion of  Israel  asserted  what  other  religions  denied,  but  that 
Israel  proclaimed  clearly  and  with  increasing  certainty  a  truth 
which  the  highest  contemporary  religions  were  struggling  to 
express.  In  the  religion  of  Israel  the  pre-Christian  world 
rose  to  articulate  religious  utterance.  Its  highest  and  truest 
intuitions  found  a  voice.  Israel  had  yet  much  to  learn  and 
much  to  unlearn  as  to  what  true  morality  is.  It  had  anthro- 
pomorphisms of  thought  and  language  to  get  rid  of.  It  had 
to  rise  in  Psalmist  and  Prophet  to  moral  heights  unknown 
to  the  patriarchal  age.  But  the  remarkable  thing  is  that 
the  claim  is  made.  Morality  is  claimed  for  God :  God  is  de- 
clared to  be  irrevocably  on  the  side  of  what  man  knows  as 
righteousness.  And  this  truth  is  proclaimed  not  as  a  dis- 
covery but  as  a  revelation  from  God  Himself.  It  was  this, 
not  less  than  the  proclamation  of  monotheism,  which  made 
the  teaching  of  the  Old  Testament  what  it  was.  It  con- 
sciously transformed  the  natural  law  of  '  might  is  right ' 
into  the  moral  truth  that  '  right  is  might.' 

And  the  consequences  of  this  new  departure  in  the  religious 
history  of  man  were  far-reaching.  It  made  the  difference  be- 
tween the  religion  of  Israel  and  all  other  religions  a  difference 
not  merely  of  degree  but  of  kind.  The  worship  of  the  Lord 
and  the  worship  of  the  heathen  gods  becomes  not  only  a 
conflict  between  the  true  and  the  false  in  religion,  but  between 
the  moral  and  the  immoral  in  practice.  More  than  this,  it 
changes  the  mere  emotional  feeling  of  awe  and  dependence 

ii.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  73 

on  invisible  powers  into  trust  and  confidence.  If  God  is 
irrevocably  on  the  side  of  right,  the  nation  or  the  individual, 
that  is  struggling  for  the  right,  is  fighting  on  the  side  of 
God.  It  was  this  which  made  the  great  Hebrew  leaders, 
and  the  Psalmists  after  them,  take  it  for  granted  that  their 
cause  was  the  cause  of  God,  and  that  the  Lord  of  Hosts 
was  with  them.  Even  the  wars  of  extermination  were  the 
expression  in  act  of  the  utter  antagonism  between  good 
and  evil,  the  cause  of  God  and  that  of  His  enemies.  And 
when  Saul  spared  A  gag  it  was  from  no  excess  of  charity,  no 
glimpse  of  a  higher  morality ;  it  was  an  act  of  moral  weak- 
ness. Finally,  this  claim  of  morality  for  God  precluded  the 
possibility  of  such  a  collision  as  took  place  in  the  history 
of  the  Greeks.  The  progressive  development  of  morals  in 
the  Old  Testament,  and  the  gradual  unfolding  of  a  perfect 
character l  was  also  for  Israel  a  progressive  revelation  of  the 
character  of  God.  Step  by  step  the  religious  idea  advanced 
with  moral  progress.  And,  as  they  advance,  the  contrast 
with  other  religions  becomes  more  marked.  '  It  was  the  final 
distinction  between  Polytheism  and  the  religion  of  Israel 
that  the  former  emphasized  power,  the  latter  the  moral 
element  to  which  it  subordinated  and  conjoined  power  V 
And  this  moral  conception  of  God  was  constantly  kept  before 
the  people.  If  they  lapse  into  idolatry  and  adopt  heathen 
practices  and  heathen  ideas  of  God,  the  prophets  are  ready 
with  the  warning  that  God  is  the  God  of  Israel,  only  because 
Israel  is  a  chosen  people  to  bear  His  name  and  His  truth 
before  the  world ;  and  if  they  are  false  to  their  mission,  they 
will  be  rejected.  If,  again,  the  sacrificial  system  loses  its  moral 
significance  as  the  recognition  of  the  holiness  of  God  and  the 
sinf ulness  of  the  sinner,  and  the  forward-pointing  look  towards 
the  great  moral  fact  of  the  Atonement,  and  becomes  merely 
ritual,  and  perfunctory,  and  formal,  the  prophets  dare  to  de- 
nounce even  the  divinely  ordered  sacrifices  as  things  which 
God  hates. 

Yet  it  was  not  that,  in  the  religion  of  Israel,  morality  was 

1  It  is  needless  to  say  that  this  section       Discipline  of  the  Christian  Character. 
is  largely  indebted  to  Dean  Church's  -  Edinb.  Rev.,  Apr.  1888,  p.  512. 

74  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

made  the  essential  thing,  a  nucleus  of  morals,  as  it  were,  with 
a  halo  of  religious  emotion  round  it.  It  was  that  the  religious 
and  the  moral  consciousness  are  brought  together  in  a  real 
unity.  To  love  the  Lord  is  to  hate  evil.  God  is  One  who 
gives  His  blessing  to  the  righteous,  while  the  ungodly  and 
him  that  delighteth  in  wickedness  doth  His  soul  abhor.  He, 
then,  who  would  ascend  into  the  hill  of  the  Lord  and  stand 
in  His  holy  place,  must  have  clean  hands,  and  a  pure  heart, 
and  a  lowly  mind.  The  Lord  God  is  holy.  He  has  no  plea- 
sure in  wickedness,  neither  shall  any  evil  dwell  with  Him. 
Righteousness  and  judgment  are  the  habitation  of  His  seat. 
The  sacrifice  that  He  loves  is  the  sacrifice  of  righteousness. 
He  is  to  be  worshipped  in  the  beauty  of  holiness.  What  He 
requires  of  man  is  that  he  shall  do  justly,  and  love  mercy, 
and  walk  humbly  with  his  God. 

All  this,  which  comes  out  no  doubt  with  increasing  clear- 
ness in  the  Psalms  and  Prophets,  is  already  implicit  in  that 
earlier  claim  made  by  the  religion  of  Israel,  that  the 
true  God  is  on  the  side  of  righteousness,  and  that  to  be  false 
to  righteousness  is  to  be  a  traitor  to  God.  In  this  union  of 
religion  and  morality  neither  is  sacrificed  to  the  other.  Each 
gains  from  its  union  with  the  other.  The  religious  idea  of 
God,  and  the  religious  emotions  which  gather  round  it,  are 
progressively  purified  with  the  growth  of  moral  ideas  ;  and 
morality  receives  new  life  and  strength  when  the  moral  law 
is  seen  to  be  the  unfolding  of  the  character  of  a  Righteous 
God,  and  moral  evil  is  known  as  '  sin '  against  a  Personal 
Being.  The  earnest  moral  protest  which  in  Greece  was 
directed  against  the  national  religion,  is  found  in  the  Old 
Testament  making  common  cause  with  the  national  religion 
against  the  immoral  beliefs  of  heathenism.  Hence  the  Jew 
was  not  called  upon,  as  the  Greek  was,  to  choose  between  his 
religion  and  his  conscience.  He  never  felt  the  strain  which 
men  feel  in  the  present  day,  when  a  high  and  pure  morality 
seems  ranged  against  religious  faith.  For  the  Jew  every  ad- 
vance in  moral  insight  purified,  while  it  justified,  that  idea  of 
God,  which  he  believed  had  come  down  to  him  from  the 
'  Father  of  the  Faithful.'  His  hope  of  immortality,  his  faith 

IT.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  75 

in  the  ultimate  triumph  of  the  God  of  Israel,  were  alike  based 
upon  the  conviction  that  God  is  a  God  of  justice  and  mercy, 
and  that  the  Righteous  One  could  not  fail  His  people,  or  suffer 
His  holy  One  to  see  corruption.  Even  though  with  the  growth 
of  morality,  and  the  fuller  unfolding  of  the  character  of  God, 
there  came,  like  a  shadow  cast  by  light,  the  deepening  conscious- 
ness of  sin  as  the  barrier  between  man  and  God,  the  Jew  re- 
fused to  believe  that  the  separation  was  for  ever.  Sin  was  a 
disease  which  needed  healing,  a  bondage  which  called  for  a 
deliverer,  a  state  of  indebtedness  from  which  man  could  not 
free  himself.  But  Israel  believed  in  and  looked  forward  to, 
with  confidence  and  hope,  the  Redeemer  who  should  come 
to  Zion  and  save  His  people  from  their  sins. 

The  final  revelation  of  Christianity  came  outwardly  as  a 
continuation  and  development  of  the  religion  of  Israel,  and 
claimed  to  be  the  fulfilment  of  Israel's  hope.  It  was  a  '  re- 
publication  '  of  the  highest  truth  about  God  which  had  been 
realized  hitherto.  For  it  came  '  not  to  destroy  but  to  fulfil.' 
God  is  still  the  Eternally  One,  the  Eternally  Righteous.  Not 
sacrifice  but  holiness,  not  external  '  works  '  but  inward  '  faith,' 
not  the  deeds  of  the  law,  but  the  righteousness  which  is  of 
God — this  is  what  He  requires.  He  is  still  the  God  of  Israel. 
But  Israel  according  to  the  flesh  had  ceased  to  be  the  Israel 
of  God,  and  the  children  of  faithful  Abraham,  in  whom, 
according  to  the  ancient  promise,  all  the  families  of  the  earth 
should  be  blessed,  are  to  be  gathered  from  east  and  west  and 
north  and  south,  from  circumcised  and  uncircumcised,  bar- 
barian, Scythian,  bond  or  free,  and  recognised  as  one  family 
under  the  one  Father.  If  Christianity  had  been  this  and  this 
only,  Christ  might  have  claimed  to  be  a  great  prophet,  breaking 
the  silence  of  400  years,  restoring  the  ancient  faith,  and  truly 
interpreting  and  carrying  forward  the  spirit  of  the  ancient 
revelation.  But  He  claimed  to  be  more  than  this.  He  claimed, 
as  the  Son  of  God,  to  be  not  only  the  true,  but  the  only,  Re- 
vealer  of  the  Father.  For  '  no  man  knoweth  the  Father  but 
the  Son,  and  he  to  whom  the  Son  shall  reveal  Him.'  What 
fresh  characteristics,  then,  has  this  new  revelation  to  add  to  the 
Old  Testament  teaching  about  God  1  He  is  still  One,  the  only 


76  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

God.  He  is  perfect  Righteousness,  yet,  as  even  the  older 
religion  knew,  a  God  of  loving-kindness  and  tender  mercy, 
'  Who  wills  not  the  death  of  the  sinner.'  But  more  than  all 
this,  He  is  now  revealed  to  man  as  Infinite  Love,  the  One 
Father  of  humanity,  Whose  only  begotten  Son  is  Incarnate 
and  'made  man  that  we  may  be  made  God.'  Not  one  jot 
or  tittle  of  the  old  revelation  of  God,  as  a  God  of  Righteous- 
ness, is  lost  or  cancelled.  The  moral  teaching  is  stern  and  un- 
compromising as  ever.  God's  love,  which  is  Himself,  is  not  the 
invertebrate  amiability,  or  weak  good-naturedness,  to  which 
some  would  reduce  it.  '  The  highest  righteousness  of  the  Old 
Testament  is  raised  to  the  completeness  of  the  Sermon  on  the 
Mount  V  '  The  New  Testament,'  it  has  been  said,  '  with  all 
its  glad  tidings  of  mercy,  is  a  severe  book  V  For  the  good- 
ness and  the  severity  of  God  are,  as  it  were,  the  convex  and 
the  concave  in  His  moral  nature.  But  what  seized  upon 
the  imagination  of  mankind  as  the  distinctive  revelation  of 
Christianity  was  the  infinite  love  and  tenderness  and  com- 
passion of  this  Righteous  God  for  sinful  man.  It  was  this 
which  shone  out  in  the  character  of  Christ.  He  was  Very 
God,  with  a  Divine  hatred  of  evil,  yet  living  as  man  among 
men,  revealing  the  true  idea  of  God,  and  not  only  realizing 
in  His  human  life  the  moral  ideal  of  man,  but  by  taking 
human  nature  into  Himself  setting  loose  a  power  of  moral 
regeneration,  of  which  the  world  had  never  dreamed. 

The  advance  which  the  Gospel  of  Christ  makes  upon 
the  Old  Testament  revelation  consists  then,  not  only  in  the 
new  truth  it  teaches  as  to  the  character  of  God,  but  in  the 
new  relation  which  it  establishes  between  God  and  man. 
So  soon  as  men  learn  the  Old  Testament  truth  that  God 
is  eternally  on  the  side  of  righteousness,  the  awe  and  cringing 
fear,  which  lies  behind  heathen  religions,  and  justifies  us 
in  calling  them  superstitions,  gives  place  to  trustful  con- 
fidence, which  deepens  into  faith,  and  gathers  round  it  those 
affections  and  desires  for  union  with  God  which  find  ex- 
pression in  the  book  of  Psalms.  The  saints  of  the  Old 
Testament  could  '  rest  in  the  Lord '  and  wait  for  the  vindi- 

1  Discipline  of  the  Christian  Character,  p.  85.  *  Ibid.,  p.  87. 

ii.      The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  77 

cation  of  His  Righteousness  in  human  life ;  they  could  yearn 
for  His  presence  and  hope  for  the  day  when  they  should 
'  see  the  King  in  His  beauty.'  But  they  were  yet  separated 
from  Him  by  the  unobliterated  fact  of  sin.  Enoch  '  walked 
with  God,'  Abraham  was  called  '  the  friend  of  God,'  Moses  '  the 
Lord  knew  face  to  face/  David  was  '  a  man  after  God's  own 
heart,'  Daniel  '  a  man  greatly  beloved.'  But  one  and  all 
of  these  fell  short,  and  necessarily  fell  short,  of  the  closeness 
of  that  union  which  is  the  Christian's  birthright.  In  the 
Gospel,  God  is  revealed  as  one  with  man.  And  this  truth 
changed  the  whole  attitude  and  atmosphere  of  worship.  There 
was  worship  still,  for  humanity  was  not  merged  and  lost 
in  Godhead.  There  is  no  Christian  ring  about  the  statement l 
that '  in  Christianity,  in  the  consciousness  that  he  is  partaker  of 
the  Divine  existence,  man  no  longer  sustains  the  relation  of 
Dependence  but  of  Love.'  Rather  the  antithesis  between  de- 
pendence and  freedom  is  destroyed.  As  perfect  love  casts  out 
fear,  yet  leaves  reverence,  so  the  consciousness  of  union  with 
God,  as  distinct  from  absorption  in  Him,  while  it  destroys 
the  last  remnant  of  what  is  servile  and  degrading  in  religious 
emotion,  and  gives  man  freedom,  yet  gives  the  freedom  of 
loving  dependence  upon  God.  And  by  this  gift  it  sets  free 
new  affections  and  appeals  to  new  motives.  It  was  the 
assured  consciousness  of  union  with  God  which  gave  the 
first  Christians  their  power  in  the  great  moral  struggles  of 
their  day.  Their  moral  ideal  with  its  loftiness,  its  purity, 
its  perfect  truthfulness,  would  by  its  very  perfectness  have 
paralyzed  effort,  had  they  not  believed  that  they  were  one 
with  Him  Who  had  not  only  proclaimed  but  realized  it,  that 
they  could  do  all  things  through  Christ  which  strengthened 
them.  And  the  horror  of  sin,  which  was  a  characteristic  note 
of  Christian  ethics,  was  due  to  the  same  fact.  Unrighteousness, 
not  only  as  under  the  Old  Testament,  ranged  a  man  on  the 
side  of  the  enemies  of  God,  but  according  to  its  degree  tended 
to  break  the  supernatural  bond  which  through  the  Incar- 
nation united  men  with  God.  Impurity,  which  meant  so 
little  for  the  civilized  world  of  the  first  Christian  centuries, 

1  Hegel.  Phil  of  Hist.,  p.  247,  Eng.  Tr. 

78  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

was  for  the  Christian  not  defilement  only,  but  sacrilege,  for 
his  body  was  God's  temple.  The  love  of  the  world  was 
enmity  against  God,  yet  the  neglect  of  social  duties,  and 
of  all  that  is  now  summed  up  in  the  '  service  of  man,'  was 
for  the  Christian  ipso  facto  the  declaring  himself  outside  the 
love  of  God,  just  as,  conversely,  the  love  of  the  brethren  was 
the  proof  that  he  had  '  passed  from  death  unto  life.' 

Thus  in  primitive  Christianity  the  religious  and  the  moral 
consciousness  were  at  one,  as  in  the  Old  Testament,  but  both 
are  now  raised  to  their  highest  level.  Free  scope  is  given 
for  the  development  of  both,  and  the  satisfaction  of  the 
demands  of  both,  in  Christian  life  and  Christian  worship. 
Side  by  side  they  fought  and  triumphed  over  heathenism, 
taking  up  and  assimilating  all  that  was  best  and  truest  in 
non-Christian  ethics.  And  though  Christians  were  long  in 
learning  what  manner  of  spirit  they  were  of,  it  seemed  as 
if  a  real  conflict  between  religion  and  morals,  within  the 
area  of  Christianity,  was  impossible. 

And  yet  again  and  again,  in  the  history  of  Christianity, 
such  a  conflict  has  come  about.  Every  moral  reformation 
within  the  Church  was  a  protest  of  the  conscience  against 
unworthy  views  of  God ;  every  new  Order  that  was  founded 
was  a  nursery  of  moral  reformation.  Yet  every  protest 
against  formalism  and  unreality  in  religion,  every  attack  on 
ecclesiasticism  and  '  priestcraft '  in  the  Church,  or  on  worldli- 
ness  and  laxity  in  professing  Christians,  owed  its  strength  to 
the  reassertion  of  the  truth,  that  in  the  Christian  idea  religion 
and  morals  are  inseparably  united.  The  moral  reformer 
always  claimed  Christianity  on  his  side,  when  attacking  the 
Christianity  of  his  day.  This  was  conspicuously  so  in  the 
great  moral  upheaval  of  the  sixteenth  century.  In  actual 
fact,  religion  and  morality  had  separated.  And  the  nearer 
one  got  to  the  centre  of  Western  Christendom,  the  more 
open  and  unabashed  the  neglect  of  morality  was.  In  Italy 
of  the  fifteenth  century  renaissance  we  see,  in  strange 
confusion,  'all  that  we  love  in  art,  and  all  that  we  loathe 
in  man1.'  It  seemed  as  if,  as  in  the  old  riddle,  a  swarm  of 

1  Cont,  Rei\,  Oct.  1878,  p.  645. 

ii.      The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  79 

bees  had  settled  in  the  dead  lion's  carcass,  and  there  was 
sweetness  instead  of  strength,  corruption  where  once  was 
life.  When  the  new  century  opened,  Borgia  was  the  supreme 
Bishop  of  the  West,  and  the  strength  of  the  protest  of  Chris- 
tianity against  immorality  may  be  gathered  from  the  list  of 
prices  to  be  paid  to  the  pardoner.  The  devout  retired  from 
the  contest  into  the  severer  discipline  of  the  monastic  life,  and 
hoped  against  hope  for  the  days  of  a  Papa  angelicus,  who 
never  came.  Yet  when  the  strained  relations  of  religion  and 
morals  resulted  in  a  revolution,  it  never  occurred  to  those, 
who  had  a  moral  reformation  at  heart,  to  say  that  religion 
was  outgrown,  and  morality  must  henceforth  take  its  place. 
They  appealed  from  the  Christianity  of  the  sixteenth  century 
to  the  Christianity  of  Christ.  Even  of  those  who,  in  their  fear 
of  popery,  broke  away  farthest  from  the  Christian  idea  of 
God,  all,  if  we  except  the  Anabaptists,  claimed  the  Bible  on 
their  side.  It  was  a  genuine  moral  revolt  against  a  religion 
which  had  come  to  tolerate  immorality.  The  hatred  of  '  eccle- 
siasticism'  and  'sacerdotalism'  was  not  at  first  a  rejection 
of  the  Church  and  the  Priesthood,  but  a  protest  against 
anything  which,  under  the  sacred  name  of  religion,  becomes 
a  cover  for  unreality,  or  makes  sin  a  thing  easy  to  be  atoned 
for.  The  Reformation  was  a  moral  protest,  and  its  results 
were  seen  within  as  well  as  outside  the  Roman  communion. 
The  Council  of  Trent  was  a  reforming  Council;  the  Jesuits 
were  the  children  of  the  Reformation  ;  and  Roman  Christianity 
in  the  strength  of  its  own  moral  revival,  even  in  the  moment 
of  defeat,  became  again  '  a  conquering  power  V 

On  the  other  hand,  those  whose  first  impulse  was  a 
protest  in  favour  of  a  moral  religion  and  a  belief  in  a 
God  who  hates  iniquity,  have  bequeathed  to  the  world  a 
legacy  of  immorality,  of  which  they  never  dreamt,  and  of 
which  we,  in  the  present  day,  are  feeling  the  full  effects. 
Lutheranism  starts  with  the  belief  that  God  is  love : 
Calvinism  with  the  conception  of  God  as  power.  With  the 
former,  the  desire,  at  all  costs,  to  guard  the  belief  in  the 
freedom  of  God's  grace,  led  to  a  morbid  fear  of  righteousness, 

1  Kanke,  Popes,  i.  395. 

8o  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

as  if  it  were  somehow  a  rival  to  faith.  With  the  latter,  a 
one-sided  view  of  the  power  of  God  gradually  obscured  the 
fact  that  righteousness  and  justice  eternally  condition  its 
exercise.  If  the  one  was,  as  history  shews  us,  in  constant 
danger  of  Antinomian  developments,  the  other  struck  at  the 
root  of  morality  by  making  God  Himself  unjust.  Forensic 
fictions  of  substitution,  immoral  theories  of  the  Atonement, 
'  the  rending  asunder  of  the  Trinity  '  and  the  opposing  of  the 
Divine  Persons,  like  parties  in  a  lawsuit *,  were  the  natural 
corollaries  of  a  theory  which  taught  that  God  was  above 
morality  and  man  beneath  it. 

How  deeply  these  false  views  of  God  have  influenced 
English  religious  thought  is  shewn  by  the  fact  that  every 
attack  on  the  moral,  as  distinguished  from  the  intellectual 
position  of  Christianity,  is  demonstrably  an  attack  on  that 
which  is  not  Christianity,  but  a  mediaeval  or  modern  per- 
version of  it.  J.  S.  Mill's  well-known  words 2,  '  I  will  call 
no  being  good,  who  is  not  what  I  mean  when  I  apply  that 
epithet  to  my  fellow  creatures,'  was  a  noble  assertion  of 
'  immutable  morality '  against  a  religion,  which  alas !  he 
mistook  for  Christianity.  The  conscience  of  to-day, — and  it 
is  a  real  gain  that  it  should  be  so, — refuses  to  believe  that 
the  imprimatur  of  religion  can  be  given  to  that  which  is  not 
good,  or  that  God  would  put  us  to  moral  confusion.  It 
would  rather  give  up  religion  altogether  than  accept  one 
which  will  not  endorse  and  advance  our  highest  moral  ideas. 

But  men  do  not  always  stop  to  make  the  necessary  dis- 
tinctions. On  the  one  side  they  see  a  traditional  view  of 
religion  which  they  cannot  harmonise  with  the  highest 
morality;  on  the  other,  they  see  a  morality,  which,  though 
it  has  grown  up  under  the  shadow  and  shelter  of  religion, 
seems  strong  enough  to  stand  alone.  And  their  first  thought 
is  '  Away  with  religion.  We  have  outgrown  it.  Henceforward 
we  will  have  morals  unencumbered  by  religion.'  What 
would  be  the  effect  on  the  morals  of  a  nation  of  thus 
renouncing  the  religious  sanction  it  is  not  safe  to  predict. 

1  Dollinger,     The     Church    and    the  2  Examination  of  Sir  W.   Hamilton's 

Churches,  p.  239.  Philosophy,  p.  103. 

ii.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  81 

In  individuals  certainly  it  sometimes  has  disastrous  results. 
But  there  is  one  thing  which  those  who  talk  about  the  '  secu- 
larization of  morals1'  seldom  take  into  account,  and  that  is 
the  effect  on  what,  in  contrast  to  morals,  they  call  religion. 
The  religious  consciousness  always  refuses  to  be  treated  as 
defunct,  and  the  religious  emotions,  if  they  no  longer  find 
their  object  in  a  God  of  Righteousness,  and  are  no  longer 
controlled  by  morality,  will  not  be  satisfied  with  the  worship 
of  the  Unknowable  or  of  idealized  humanity,  but  will  avenge 
themselves,  as  they  have  done  again  and  again,  in  super- 
stition 2. 

And  the  attempt  to  do  without  religion  in  morals  is  as 
unphilosophical  as  it  is  dangerous.  It  is  parallel  to  what,  in 
the  region  of  morality  proper,  we  all  recognise  as  a  false 
asceticism.  It  is  the  attempt  to  crush  out,  rather  than  to 
purify.  When  men  realize  the  danger  of  giving  the  rein  to 
the  animal  passions,  there  are  always  to  be  found  moralists 
who  will  treat  these  passions  as  in  themselves  evil,  and 
advocate  the  suppression  of  them.  And  only  after  an  anti- 
nomian  revolt  against  that  false  teaching  do  men  realize  that 
morality  is  not  the  destruction,  but  the  purification  and 
regulation  of  the  passions.  So  with  religion  and  the  religious 
emotions.  The  function  of  morality  is  to  purify  the  religious 
idea  of  God,  and  religion  and  morality  are  strong  and  true  in 
proportion  as  each  uses  the  help  of  the  other.  But  neither 
can  treat  the  other  as  subordinate.  God  is  more  than  what 
Kant  makes  Him.  the  ultimate  justification  of  morality: 
morality  is  more  than  what  some  religious  people  would  have 
it,  obedience  to  the  positive  commands  of  even  God  Himself. 
In  experience  we  find  them  separate  and  even  opposed: 
ideally  they  are  one,  united  not  confused.  Separated,  religion 
tends  to  become  superstitious,  morality  to  degenerate  into  a 
mere  prudentialism,  or  at  least  an  expanded  utilitarianism. 
United,  religion  gives  to  right  that  absolute  character  which 

1  H.  Spencer,  Data  of  Ethics,  pref.  and  men  were  carried  either  to  the 

2  S«e  Ihne's  remarks  on  the  separa-  schools  of  Greek  Philosophy  or  to  the 
tion  of  morals  and  religion  in  Rome  grossest  and   meanest    superstition.' 
at  the  time  of  the  Punic  wars.     'The  Hist,  of  Rome,  vol.  ii.  pp.  477,  478. 
religious  cravings  were  not  satisfied, 

82  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

makes  it  defiant  of  consequences ;  morality  safeguards  the 
idea  of  God  from  aught  that  is  unworthy  of  the  worship  of 
moral  beings. 

As  the  result  of  all  the  conflicts  which  have  raged  round 
the  idea  of  God  so  far  as  morals  are  concerned,  one  truth  has 
burned  itself  into  the  consciousness  of  both  the  apologists  and 
opponents  of  religion,  a  truth  as  old  indeed  as  the  religion 
of  Israel,  but  only  slowly  realized  in  the  course  of  ages,  the 
truth,  namely,  that  the  religious  idea  of  God  must  claim  and 
justify  itself  to  the  highest  known  morality,  and  no  amount 
of  authority,  ecclesiastical  or  civil,  will  make  men  worship  an 
immoral  God.  And  already  that  truth  has  thrown  back  its 
light  upon  questions  of  Old  Testament  morality.  We  no 
longer  say,  '  It  is  in  the  Bible,  approved  or  allowed  by  God, 
and  therefore  it  must  be  right.'  It  was  this  view  which,  in 
every  age,  has  given  its  protection  to  religious  wars  and 
intolerance  and  persecution.  But  we  look  back  and  see  in  the 
perspective  of  history  how  God  in  every  age  takes  man  as  he 
is  that  He  may  make  him  what  he  is  not.  We  see  in  the  Old 
Testament  not  only  the  revelation  of  the  Righteousness  of 
God,  but  the  record  of  the  way  in  which,  in  spite  of  wayward- 
ness and  disobedience,  He  raised  His  people  to  the  knowledge 
of  the  truth. 

VI.  But  the  religious  idea  of  God  in  our  day,  as  in  former 
ages,  is  challenged  not  only  by  conscience,  but  by  the  specu- 
lative reason.  And  there  is  a  close  parallelism  between  the 
two  conflicts.  When  religion  and  morals  are  opposed,  men 
naturally  say,  '  Give  us  morals ;  away  with  religion.'  And 
the  answer  is — True  religion  is  moral ;  that  which  is  not  moral 
is  not  true  ;  and  morality  without  religion  will  not  only  leave 
the  religious  consciousness  unsatisfied,  but  fall  short  of  its  own 
true  perfection.  So  when  religion  and  philosophy  are  opposed, 
men  say  once  more,  'Give  us  reason;  away  with  religion.' 
And  the  answer  again  is — True  religion  is  rational :  if  it 
excludes  reason,  it  is  self-condemned.  And  reason  without 
religion  fails  of  its  object,  since,  if  philosophy  can  find  no 
place  for  religion,  it  cannot  explain  man. 

But  here  again  nothing  is  gained  by  confusing  the  issue,  or 

ii.      The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  83 

denying  the  actual  fact  of  the  collision.  We  may  say  with 
Lacordaire,  '  God  is  the  proper  name  of  truth,  as  truth  is  the 
abstract  name  of  God.'  But  it  is  not  a  matter  of  indifference 
from  which  point  we  start,  whether  with  religion  we  approach 
God  first  as  a  moral  Being,  or  with  philosophy  seek  for  Him 
as  the  truth  of  man  and  nature.  The  motto  of  Oxford 
University,  Dominus  Illuminatio  mea,  altogether  changes 
its  meaning  if  we  read  it  Illuminatio  Dominus  metis.  As 
Reville  says,  '  A  religion  may  become  philosophical,  but  no 
philosophy  has  ever  founded  a  religion  possessing  real  his- 
torical power  V  And  it  is  a  fact  patent  to  the  observation  of 
all,  that  it  is  easier  to  make  religion  philosophical  than  to  make 
philosophy  in  any  real  sense  religious.  The  reason  of  this  is 
obvious.  Religion  is  not  only  first  in  the  field,  it  covers  the 
whole  ground  before  either  morals  or  science  have  attained 
their  full  development,  or  even  emerged  into  conscious  life. 
But  when  we  speak  of  philosophy,  we  have  reached  a  stage  in 
which  the  reason  has  already  separated  itself  from,  and  set 
itself  over  against,  the  religious  consciousness,  and  must  either 
absorb  religion  into  itself,  in  which  case  religion  ceases  to  be 
religion,  or  must  leave  religion  outside,  though  it  may  borrow 
and  appropriate  religious  terms.  If,  then,  the  idea  of  God  is  to 
appeal  to  both  the  religious  consciousness  and  the  speculative 
reason  it  must  be  by  claiming  philosophy  for  religion,  not  by 
claiming  religion  for  philosophy.  It  is  from  within,  not  from 
without,  that  religion  must  be  defended. 

In  Greece  the  traditional  polytheism  was  challenged,  as  we 
have  seen,  at  once  on  the  side  both  of  morals  and  metaphysics. 
To  Xenophanes,  indeed,  the  unity  of  God  is  even  more  essen- 
tial than  His  morality,  and  the  attack  on  anthropomorphism 
is  as  much  an  attack  upon  the  number  of  the  gods  of  Hesiod 
as  upon  the  immoral  character  attributed  to  them.  In  the 
unity,  however,  which  Xenophanes  contends  for,  the  reli- 
gious idea  of  God  is  so  attenuated,  that  we  hardly  know 
whether  the  One  God  is  a  person,  or  an  abstraction.  Indeed, 
it  is  hard  to  see  how  a  champion  of  Eleaticism  could  con- 
sistently have  held  the  personality  of  God,  as  we  understand 

1  History  of  Religions,  p.  2  2. 
G    2 

84  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

it,  without  falling  under  his  own  charge  of  anthropomorphism. 
In  Plato  the  same  difficulty  appears,  only  complicated  or 
relieved  by  the  fact  that  while  from  the  moral  side  he  talks 
like  a  theist,  from  the  metaphysical  his  teaching  is  pantheistic. 
Is  the  '  Idea  of  Good '  personal  ?  Is  it  a  God  we  can  love  and 
worship,  or  only  a  God  we  can  talk  about  1  Is  the  vision  of 
Er  a  concession  to  popular  views,  or  the  vehicle  of  moral  and 
religious  truth  ?  The  question  is  hardly  more  easy  to  decide 
with  regard  to  Aristotle.  The  religious  atmosphere,  which 
lingers  on  in  Plato,  has  disappeared.  What  of  the  religious 
belief1?  Did  Aristotle  in  any  intelligible  sense  hold  the 
personality  of  God  ?  Great  names  are  ranged  on  both  sides  of 
the  mediaeval  controversy.  Who  shall  decide  ?  But  whether 
or  no  anything  of  religion  survived  in  philosophy,  it  was  not 
strong  enough  to  withstand  the  attack  of  the  moral  and 
the  speculative  reason,  still  less  to  claim  these  as  its  own.  It 
is  not  on  the  side  of  religion,  but  of  speculation,  that  we  are 
debtors  to  the  Greeks. 

Among  the  Jews,  on  the  other  hand,  speculation  seems 
hardly  to  have  existed.  Religion  was  satisfied  to  make  good 
her  claim  to  the  region  of  morals.  God  was  One,  and  He  was 
Righteous,  but  the  mystery  which  enveloped  His  nature  the 
Old  Testament  does  not  attempt  to  fathom.  '  Clouds  and 
darkness  are  round  about  Him,'  yet  out  of  the  thick  darkness 
comes  the  clear  unfaltering  truth  that  '  Righteousness  and 
judgment  are  the  habitation  of  His  seat.'  Jewish  religion  and 
Greek  speculation  had  little  contact,  and  less  kinship,  till  the 
best  days  of  both  were  passed.  But  in  the  days  of  the  dis- 
persion we  get  the  beginning  of  the  mingling  of  those  streams 
which  were  only  united  under  the  higher  unity  of  Christianity. 
'  With  the  Jews  of  the  East,'  it  has  been  said,  '  rested  the 
future  of  Judaism  :  with  them  of  the  West,  in  a  sense,  that  of 
the  world.  The  one  represented  old  Israel,  groping  back 
into  the  darkness  of  the  past ;  the  other  young  Israel,  stretch- 
ing forth  its  hands  to  where  the  dawn  of  a  new  day  was  about 
to  break  V  The  Septuagint  translation  threw  open  to  the 
Greek  world  the  sacred  books  of  Israel.  The  Apocrypha, 

1  Edersheim,  Life  and  Times,  i.  p.  1 7. 

ii.      The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  85 

with  all  its  glorification  of  Judaism,  was  both  an  apology 
and  an  eirenicon1.  It  seemed  as  if  in  Wisdom  personified 
might  be  found  a  middle  term  between  the  religion  of  Israel 
and  the  philosophy  of  Greece,  and  the  life  of  righteousness 
might  be  identified  with  the  life  of  true  wisdom.  The  Jews 
of  Alexandria  were  thus  willing  to  find  a  strain  of  truth  in 
Greek  philosophy,  and  Alexandrian  Greeks  were  found  ready 
'  to  spiritualize  their  sensuous  divinities  V  But  the  result 
was  a  compromise,  in  which  the  distinctive  elements  of  each 
were  not  harmonized  but  lost.  There  was  no  fusion  as  yet 
of  Jewish  and  Greek  thought,  only  each  was  learning  to 
understand  the  other,  and  unconsciously  preparing  for  the 
higher  synthesis  of  Christianity. 

Whether  we  think  of  Christ  as  the  '  Son  of  Man,'  or  as  the 
Revealer  of  God,  Christianity  is  bound  to  transcend  national 
distinctions,  and  to  claim  not  only  the  whole  of  humanity,  but 
the  whole  of  man,  his  reason,  no  less  than  his  heart  and  will. 
And  this  Christ  did  in  a  special  way.  He  not  only  speaks  of 
Himself  as  '  the  Truth,'  and  as  having  come  '  to  bear  witness 
to  the  Truth,'  but  the  very  complement  (if  we  may  say  so)  of 
His  revelation  of  the  Father  was  the  sending  '  the  Spirit  of 
Truth,'  who  should  teach  His  disciples  all  things.  This  pos- 
session of  '  truth '  is  always  spoken  of  by  Christ  as  a  future 
thing,  implicit  indeed  in  Himself,  Who  is  the  Truth,  but  only 
to  be  explicitly  declared  and  brought  to  remembrance  when 
the  Spirit  of  Truth  should  come.  He  was  to  guide  them 
'  into  all  truth.'  '  Ye  shall  know  the  truth,  and  the  truth 
shall  make  you  free.'  It  was  inevitable,  then,  that  the  ques- 
tion should  arise, — Will  this  religion,  which  has  broken 
through  the  narrowness  of  Judaism,  and  yet  by  its  belief  in 
a  God  of  righteousness  and  love  combated  and  triumphed 
over  heathen  immorality,  have  the  power  to  assimilate  and 
absorb  the  philosophy  of  Greece  ?  The  great  crisis  in  the 
world's  history,  as  we  see  it,  looking  back  from  the  security 
of  eighteen  centuries,  was  this : — Will  Christianity,  with  alJ 
its  moral  triumphs,  become  a  tributary  to  Greek  philosophy, 

1  See  Edersheim,  i.  pp.  31,  etc. 

8  Hegel,  Philosophy  of  History,  p.  343,  Eng.  Tr. 

86  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

as  represented  by  the  Schools  of  Alexandria,  or  will  it  claim 
and  transform  the  rational,  as  it  has  transformed  the  moral, 
progress  of  humanity  1  The  answer  of  Christianity  is  unhesi- 
tating. Christianity  is  truth,  and  there  is  only  one  truth. 
Christianity  is  wisdom,  and  there  is  only  one  wisdom ; 
for  the  wisdom  of  the  world  is  not  wisdom  but  folly.  And 
at  once  the  rival  claim  is  made.  Why  not  a  division  of 
territory  1  Knowledge  for  the  philosopher ;  faith  for  the 
Christian.  The  Gnostics  taught,  as  a  modern  philosopher 
teaches,  that  religion  is  'reason  talking  naively,'  and  that, 
good  as  it  is  for  ordinary  people,  the  Gnostic  can  afford  to  do 
without  it.  Every  one  knows  the  answer  of  the  Apostles  to 
the  insidious  suggestions  of  Gnosticism.  To  S.  Peter  it  is 
'  a  damnable  heresy,  even  denying  the  Lord  who  bought  us  V 
To  S.  Paul  it  is  the  '  science  falsely  so  called  2 ; '  the  '  know- 
ledge which  puffs  up  3  ; '  the  '  wisdom  of  this  world  4.'  To 
S.  John,  Cerinthus  was  '  the  enemy  of  the  truth  5.'  To  S. 
Polycarp,  Marcion  is  '  the  firstborn  of  Satan.'  It  never 
occurred  to  the  Apostles,  or  the  Apologists  after  them,  to 
retreat  into  the  fastnesses  of  a  reasonless  faith.  For  with 
them  faith  was  implicit  knowledge,  and  the  only  knowledge 
that  was  true. 

It  was  the  collision  of  Christianity  with  Greek  thought 
which  gave  rise  to  Christian  theology  in  the  strict  sense  of 
the  term.  Its  necessity  was  the  claiming  of  Greek  as  well  as 
Jew;  its  justification  was  the  belief. in  the  presence  of  the 
Spirit  of  truth ;  its  impulse  the  desire  '  to  know  the  things 
which  are  freely  given  to  us  by  God6.'  The  first  Christians 
were  not  theologians.  They  were  'unlearned  and  ignorant 
men.'  When  Christ  preached,  the  common  people  heard  Him 
gladly,  the  publicans  and  the  harlots  believed  Him,  the  poor 
found  in  His  teaching  '  good  news,'  and  a  few  fishermen  de- 
voted their  lives  to  Him.  But  the  Scribes  and  Pharisees 
stood  aloof;  and  the  rationalistic  Sadducees  asked  Him 
captious  questions ;  and  the  Herodians,  the  Erastians  of  the 

1  2  S.  Pet.  ii.  i.  *  !  Cor.  iii.  19. 

2  i  Tim.  vi.  20.  «  Euseb.  iii.  28. 

3  i  Cor.  viii.  6.  6  i  Cor.  ii.  12. 

ii.      The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  87 

day,  tried  to  involve  Him  with  the  secular  power.  It  was 
only  when  challenged  by  an  earnest,  but  non-religious  philo- 
sophy, that  reason  came  forward,  in  the  strength  of  the  Spirit 
of  truth,  to  interpret  to  itself  and  to  the  world  the  revelation 
of  Christ.  Religion  and  theology  in  different  ways  have  to 
do  with  the  knowledge  of  God  and  of  spiritual  truth.  They 
have  the  same  object,  God,  but  their  aims  and  their  methods 
are  different.  Religion  knows  God  ;  theology  is  concerned  with 
the  idea  of  God.  Religion  sees ;  theology  thinks.  Religion 
begins  and  ends  in  an  almost  instinctive  attitude  of  worship  ; 
theology  rationalizes  and  defines  the  characteristics  of  the 
Object  of  worship.  As  reason  seeks  to  interpret  feeling,  so 
theology  interprets  religion.  It  makes  explicit  what  is  im- 
plicit in  religion.  '  As  the  intellect  is  cultivated  and  expanded, 
it  cannot  refrain  from  the  attempt  to  analyse  the  vision 
which  influences  the  heart,  and  the  object  in  which  it  centres  ; 
nor  does  it  stop  till  it  has,  in  some  sort,  succeeded  in  ex- 
pressing in  words,  what  has  all  along  been  a  principle  both 
of  the  affections  and  of  practical  obedience  V  It  takes  the 
facts  which  the  religious  consciousness  has  seized,  seeks  to 
bring  them  into  distinctness  before  the  mental  vision,  to 
connect  them  with  one  another  in  a  coherent  system,  and 
find  in  them  the  explanation  and  unity  of  all  that  is.  Christian 
theology  grows  naturally  out  of  the  Christian  religion.  But 
religion  is  a  divine  life ;  theology  a  divine  science. 

This  explains  the  fact  that  though  both  religion  and  theo- 
logy have  to  do  with  the  knowledge  of  God,  and  ideally 
work  in  perfect  harmony,  yet  they  are  often  found  opposed. 
Theology  is  always  in  danger  of  becoming  unreal.  What  is 
an  interpretation  for  one  age  becomes  '  a  tongue  not  under- 
standed '  in  the  next.  Hence  when  a  revival  of  religious  life 
comes,  it  frequently  shews  itself  in  an  attack  on  the  received 
theology.  Theology  is  no  longer  regarded  as  the  scientific 
expression  of  the  very  truths  which  religion  values  ;  it  is 
conceived  of  as  the  antithesis  of  religion,  and  reformers  dream 
of  a  new  theology  which  shall  be  for  them  what,  though  they 
know  it  not,  the  old  theology  was  to  their  predecessors,  the 

1  Newman's  Arians,  ch.  ii.  §  i. 

88  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

handmaid  and  guardian  of  religious  truth.  When  Martin 
Luther  said  that  '  an  old  woman  who  reads  her  Bible  in  the 
chimney  corner  knows  more  about  God  than  the  great  doctors 
of  theology,'  he  was  emphasising  the  severance  which,  in  his 
day,  had  come  to  exist  between  a  religious  life  and  theological 
orthodoxy.  And  when  in  his  Table  Talk  he  says,  '  A  Jurist 
may  be  a  rogue,  but  a  theologian  must  be  a  man  of  piety,' 
he  touches  a  real  truth.  A  hundred  years  later,  amid  the 
confusions  and  unrealities  of  the  seventeenth  century,  John 
Smith  1,  the  Cambridge  Platonist,  said  the  same :  '  They  are 
not  always  the  best  skilled  in  divinity,'  he  says,  '  that  are 
most  studied  in  those  pandects  into  which  it  is  sometimes 
digested.'  '  Were  I  to  define  divinity,  I  should  rather  call  it 
a  divine  life  than  a  divine  science.'  Technically,  no  doubt, 
he  was  wrong,  for  theology  is  a  science  and  not  a  life,  but, 
like  Luther,  he  was  vindicating  the  truth  that  it  is  possible 
for  quite  simple  people  to  know  God,  though  they  have  no 
knowledge  of  theology,  and  that  theology,  when  it  becomes 
speculative  and  abstract,  ceases  to  be  theology.  A  theologian, 
as  Mazzini  says  of  an  artist,  '  must  be  a  high-priest  or  a 

But  the  world  dislikes  a  high-priest,  and  good  people  dis- 
like a  charlatan.  And  the  consequence  is  that  theology, 
ancient  or  modern,  is  attacked  from  two  very  different  points 
of  view,  by  those  who  look  upon  it  as  the  antithesis  of  '  the 
simple  Gospel,'  and  by  those  who  approach  it  from  the  side 
of  speculative  thought.  Theology  claims  to  be  a  divine 
science.  Religious  people  attack  it  because  it  is  a  science ; 
philosophers  because  it  claims  to  be  divine.  To  the  former, 
religion  expressed  in  rational  terms  ceases  to  be  religion ;  to 
the  latter,  that  science  is  no  science  which  claims  for  itself 
unique  conditions.  Yet  S.  Paul  seems  to  recognise  both  the 
necessity  and  the  uniqueness  of  theology  when  he  says  to  the 
Greeks  of  Corinth,  '  We  received  not  the  spirit  of  the  world, 
but  the  spirit  which  is  of  God,  that  we  might  know  the 
things  that  are  freely  given  us  by  God.' 

It  is  the  relation  of  Christian  theology  to  philosophy  and 

1  Natural  Truth  of  Christianity,  §§  r,  2. 

ii.      The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  89 

science  with  which  we  are  specially  concerned.  But  it  is 
impossible  to  pass  by  the  objection  to  theology  which  comes 
as  it  were  ah  intra  from  the  side  of  religion.  For  if  it  is 
valid,  then  Christianity  may  as  well  give  up  at  once  any 
idea  of  being  the  religion  of  man.  Yet  people  say,  '  Why 
have  a  theology  ?  Human  reason  cannot  search  out  "  the  deep 
things  of  God  ;"  it  will  only  put  new  difficulties  in  a  brother's 
way  ;  why  not  rest  content  with  the  words  of  Holy  Scrip- 
ture, with  simple  truths  like  "  God  is  love,"  and  simple  duties 
like  "Love  one  another,"  and  leave  theology  alone ?'  Now 
without  denying  what  George  Eliot  calls  '  the  right  of  the 
individual  to  general  haziness,'  or  asserting  that  every  Chris- 
tian must  be  a  theologian,  we  may  surely  say  that  Christianity 
is  bound  to  have  a  theology.  And  even  individual  Chris- 
tians, if  they  ever  grow  into  the  manhood  of  reason,  must 
have  a  theology,  or  cease  to  be  religious.  The  protest 
against  theology  from  the  side  of  religion  looks  modest  and 
charitable  enough  till  we  remember  that  religious  haziness 
is  generally,  if  not  always,  the  outcome  of  moral  laziness  ; 
that  it  implies  the  neglect  of  a  duty  and  the  neglect  of 
a  gift ; — the  duty  of  realizing  to  the  reason  the  revelation  of 
Christ,  and  the  gift  of  the  Spirit  of  Truth  to  enable  us  to  do  it. 
More  than  this,  the  protest  against  theology  in  the  interests 
of  religion  is  irrational  and  suicidal.  To  tell  a  thinking  man 
that  he  need  not  interpret  to  his  reason  what  religion  tells 
him  of  God,  is  like  saying  to  him,  '  Be  religious  if  you  will, 
but  you  need  not  let  your  religion  influence  your  conduct.' 
If  Christianity  had  been  content  to  be  a  moral  religion,  if  it 
had  abandoned  its  claim  to  rationality  and  had  left  Greek 
speculation  alone,  it  must  have  accepted  either  the  Gnostic 
division  of  territory,  or  recognised  an  internecine  conflict 
between  religion  and  philosophy.  And  it  did  neither  ;  but, 
under  the  guidance  of  the  Spirit  of  Truth,  Christian  theology 
arose  and  claimed  the  reason  of  the  ancient  world. 

Thus  as  the  religion  of  the  Old  Testament  claims  morality 
for  God,  so  Christianity  goes  further  and  claims  to  hold  the 
key  to  the  intellectual  problems  of  the  world.  So  far  as  the 
nature  of  God  is  concerned,  Christianity  met  the  intellectual 

9O  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

difficulties  of  the  first  centuries  by  the  Doctrine  of  the 

From  time  to  time  people  make  the  discovery  that  the 
doctrine  of  the  Trinity  is  older  than  Christianity.  If  the 
discoverer  is  a  Christian  apologist,  he  usually  explains  that 
God  has  given  anticipatory  revelations  to  men  of  old,  and 
points  out  how  they  fall  short  of  the  revelation  of  Christianity. 
If  he  is  an  opponent  of  Christianity,  he  triumphantly  claims 
to  have  unmasked  the  doctrine  and  tracked  it  down  to  a 
purely  natural  origin.  '  People  think,'  says  Hegel,  '  that  by 
pronouncing  a  doctrine  to  be  Neo-Platonic,  they  have  ipso 
facto  banished  it  from  Christianity1.'  Men  have  found  the 
doctrine,  or  something  like  it,  not  only  in  the  Old  Testament 
but  in  Plato  and  Neo-Platonism,  and  among  the  Ophite 
Gnostics,  in  the  Chinese  Tao-Te-Ching  and  the  '  Three  Holy 
Ones  '  of  Bouddhism,  in  the  Tri-murti  of  Hinduism  and  else- 
where. Why  not  ?  Revelation  never  advances  for  itself  the 
claim  which  its  apologists  sometimes  make  for  it,  the  claim 
to  be  something  absolutely  new.  A  truth  revealed  by  God  is 
never  a  truth  out  of  relation  with  previous  thought.  He 
leads  men  to  feel  their  moral  and  intellectual  needs  before 
He  satisfies  either.  There  was  a  preparation  for  Hebrew 
monotheism,  as  there  was  a  preparation  for  the  Gospel  of 
Christ.  There  was  an  intellectual  preparation  for  the  doc- 
trine of  the  Trinity,  as  there  was  a  moral  preparation  for  the 
doctrine  of  the  Incarnation.  If  the  Christian  doctrine  of  the 
Incarnation  is  distinguished  from  the  avatars  of  Hinduism, 
and  the  incarnations  of  Thibetan  Lamaism,  by  its  regenerative 
moral  force,  the  Christian  doctrine  of  the  Trinity  is  no  less 
distinguished  from  the  pseudo-trinities  of  Neo-Platonism  and 
its  modern  developments  by  the  fact  that  for  eighteen  cen- 
turies it  has  been  the  safeguard  of  a  pure  Monotheism  against 
everything  which  menaces  the  life  of  religion. 

But  Christian  theology  is  not  '  a  philosophy  without  as- 
sumptions.' It  does  not  attempt  to  prove  sola  ratione  the 
doctrine  of  the  Trinity,  but  to  shew  how  that  which  reason 
demands  is  met  and  satisfied  by  the  Christian  doctrine  of  God. 

1  Phil,  of  Hist.,  p.  343,  Eng.  Tr. 

ii.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  91 

Starting  with  the  inheritance  of  faith,  the  belief  in  the  Divi- 


nity  of  Christ,  and  trusting  in  the  guidance  of  the  Spirit  of 
Truth,  it  throws  itself  boldly  into  the  rational  problem,  fights 
its  way  through  every  form  of  Unitarianism,  and  interprets 
its  faith  to  itself  and  to  the  world  at  large  in  the  doctrine  of 
the  Triune  God.  Its  charter  is  the  formula  of  Baptism,  where 
the  '  treasures  of  immediate  faith  are  gathered  up  into  a  sen- 
tence, though  not  yet  formulated  into  a  doctrine  V 

To  the  Greek  mind  two  things  had  become  clear  before 
Christianity  came  into  the  world,  and  it  would  be  easy  to 
trace  the  steps  by  which  the  conclusions  were  reached.  First, 
Reason,  as  relation-giving,  seeks  for  unity  in  the  manifoldness 
of  which  it  is  conscious,  and  will  be  satisfied  with  nothing  less. 
But  Eleaticism  had  convincingly  proved  that  an  abstract 
unity  can  explain  nothing.  Quite  apart  from  questions  of 
religion  and  morals,  the  Eleatic  unity  was  metaphysically  a 
failure.  Plato  had  seen  this,  and  yet  the  'dead  hand'  of 
Eleaticism  rested  on  Platonism,  and  the  dialogue  Parmenides 
shewed  how  powerless  the  Doctrine  of  Ideas  was  to  evade  the 
difficulty.  Thus  the  Greeks  more  than  2000  years  ago  had 
realized,  what  is  nowadays  proclaimed,  as  if  it  were  a  new 
discovery,  that  an  absolute  unit  is  unthinkable,  because,  as 
Plato  puts  it  in  the  Philebus,  the  union  of  the  one  and  the 
many  is  '  an  everlasting  quality  in  thought  itself  which  never 
grows  old  in  us.'  The  Greeks,  like  the  Jews,  had  thus  had 
their  '  schoolmaster  to  bring  them  to  Christ.'  They  had  not 
solved,  but  they  had  felt,  the  rational  difficulty ;  as  the  Jews 
had  felt,  but  had  not  overcome,  except  through  the  Messianic 
hope,  the  separation  of  man  from  God.  But  as  the  Trinitarian 
doctrine  took  shape,  Christian  teachers  realized  how  the  Chris- 
tian, as  opposed  to  the  Jewish,  idea  of  God,  not  only  held  the 
truth  of  the  Divine  Unity  as  against  all  polytheistic  religions, 
but  claimed  reason  on  its  side  against  all  Unitarian  theories. 
They  did  not,  however,  argue  that  it  was  true  because  it 
satisfied  reason,  but  that  it  satisfied  reason  because  it  was  true. 

They  started,  indeed,  not  with  a  metaphysical  problem  to 
be  solved,  but  with  a  historical  fact  to  proclaim,  the  fact  of  the 

1  Dorner.  Hist,  of  Doct.  i.  pp.  362,  etc. 

92  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

Resurrection,  and  a  doctrinal  truth  to  maintain,  the  Divinity 
of  Him  who  rose.  And  starting  from  that  basis  of  fact  revealed 
in  Christ,  they  found  themselves  in  possession  of  an  answer 
to  difficulties  which  at  first  they  had  not  felt,  and  thus  their 
belief  was  justified  and  verified  in  the  speculative  region. 

The  truth  for  which  they  contended,  which  was  enshrined 
in  their  sacred  writings,  was  that  '  the  Father  is  God,  the 
Son  is  God,  and  the  Holy  Ghost  is  God.  And  yet  they 
are  not  three  Gods,  but  one  God.'  But  the  Fathers  do 
not  treat  this  doctrine  merely  as  a  revealed  mystery,  still 
less  as  something  which  complicates  the  simple  teaching  of 
Monotheism,  but  as  the  condition  of  rationally  holding  the 
Unity  of  God.  '  The  Unity  which  derives  the  Trinity  out  of 
its  own  self,'  says  Tertullian,  '  so  far  from  being  destroyed,  is 
actually  supported  by  it1.'  'We  cannot  otherwise  think  of 
One  God,'  says  Hippolytus,  '  but  by  truly  believing  in 
Father,  and  Son,  and  Holy  Ghost  V  '  The  supreme  and  only 
God,'  says  Lactantius,  '  cannot  be  worshipped  except  through 
the  Son.  He  who  thinks  that  he  worships  the  Father  only, 
in  that  he  does  not  worship  the  Son  also,  does  not  worship 
the  Father3.'  Without  the  Son  the  Father  is  not,'  says 
Clement  of  Alexandria,  '  for  in  that  He  is  a  Father  He  is  the 
Father  of  the  Son,  and  the  Son  is  the  true  teacher  about  the 
Father4.'  So  Origen  argues,— If  God  had  ever  existed  alone 
in  simple  unity  and  solitary  grandeur,  apart  from  some  object 
upon  which  from  all  eternity  to  pour  forth  His  love,  He 
could  not  have  been  always  God.  His  love,  His  Fatherhood, 
His  very  omnipotence  would  have  been  added  in  time,  and 
there  would  then  have  been  a  time  when  He  was  imperfect. 
'The  Fatherhood  of  God  must  be. coeval  with  His  omnipo- 
tence ;  for  it  is  through  the  Son  that  the  Father  is  Almighty 5.' 
This  was  the  line  of  argument  afterwards  developed  by 
S.  Athanasius  when  he  contended  against  the  Arians  that  the 
Son  was  the  reality  or  truth6  of  the  Father,  without  whom 
the  Father  could  not  exist ;  and  by  S.  Augustine,  when  he 
argues  that  love  implies  one  who  loves  and  one  who  is  loved, 

1  Adv.  Prux.  ch.  iii.  *  Strom,  v.  I. 

3  Cont.  Noet.  §  xiv.  5  De  Prim.  I.  ii.  §  10. 

3  lust,  iv.  c.  29.  6  Adv.  Arianos  i.  §  20. 

ii.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  93 

and  love  to  bind  them  together1.  Even  one  so  unphilo- 
sophically  minded  as  Irenaeus 2,  cannot  but  see  in  the  Chris- 
tian doctrine  of  the  relation  of  the  Father  and  the  Son,  the 
solution  of  the  difficulty  about  the  infinity  of  God :  '  Immensus 
Pater  in  Filio  rnensuratus  ;  mensura  Patris  Filius.'  While 
philosophy  with  increasing  hopelessness  was  asking,  How 
can  we  have  a  real  unity  which  shall  be  not  a  barren  and 
dead  unity,  but  shall  include  differences'?  Christianity,  with 
its  doctrine  of  God,  was  arguing  that  that  which  was  an 
unsolved  contradiction  for  non- Christian  thought,  was  a 
necessary  corollary  of  the  Christian  Faith 3. 

The  other  truth  which  Greek  thought  had  realized  was  the 
immanence  of  reason  in  nature  and  in  man.  When  Anaxa- 
goras  first  declared  that  the  universe  was  the  work  of  intelli- 
gence, we  are  told  that  he  seemed  '  like  a  sober  man  amongst 
random  talkers.'  But  both  Plato  and  Aristotle  accuse  him 
of  losing  the  truth  which  he  had  gained  because  he  made 
intelligence  appear  only  on  occasions  in  the  world,  dragged 
in.  like  a  stage-god,  when  naturalistic  explanations  failed  4. 
The  conception  of  creation  out  of  nothing  was  of  course  un- 
known to  Anaxagoras.  Intelligence  is  only  the  arranger  of 
materials  already  given  in  a  chaotic  condition.  With  Aristotle 
too  it  is  reason  which  makes  everything  what  it  is.  But 
the  reason  is  in  things,  not  outside  them.  Nature  is  rational 
from  end  to  end.  In  spite  of  failures  and  mistakes,  due  to 
her  materials,  nature  does  the  best  she  can  and  always  aims 
at  a  good  end 5.  She  works  like  an  artist  with  an  ideal  in 
view6.  Only  there  is  this  marked  difference, — Nature  has 
the  principle  of  growth  within  herself,  while  the  artist  is 
external  to  his  materials7.  Here  we  have  a  clear  and  con- 
sistent statement  of  the  doctrine  of  immanent  reason  as 
against  the  Anaxagorean  doctrine  of  a  transcendent  intelli- 
gence. If  we  translate  both  into  the  theological  language  of 
our  own  day,  we  should  call  the  latter  the  deistic,  the  former 

1  De  Trin.  viii.  10  and  ix.  2.  5  p.  455bi7-     The  references  are  to 

1  Iren.  Adv.  Haer.  IV.  iv.  I.  2.  the  Berlin  edition. 

3  Cf.  pp.  333-336-  6  P-  i99"8>  I8:  4T5bl7:  73i"24- 

4  Plat.    Phaed.   98   B.      Arist.  Met.  7  p.  1070*7,  !O33b8,  753a3- 
A.  4. 

94  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

the  pantheistic,  view ;  or,  adopting  a  distinction  of  supreme 
importance  in  the  history  of  science,  we  might  say  that  we 
have  here,  face  to  face,  the  mechanical  and  the  organic  view 
of  nature.  Both  were  teleological,  but  to  the  one,  reason  was 
an  extra-mundane  cause,  to  the  other,  an  internal  principle. 
It  was  the  contrast  between  external  and  inner  design,  as  we 
know  it  in  Kant  and  Hegel ;  between  the  teleology  of  Paley 
and  the  'wider  teleology'  of  Darwin  and  Huxley  and  Fiske ; 
between  the  transcendent  and  immanent  views  of  God,  when 
so  held  as  to  be  mutually  exclusive. 

It  is  these  two  one-sided  views  which  the  Christian  doctrine 
of  God  brings  together.  Religion  demands  as  the  very  condition 
of  its  existence  a  God  who  transcends  the  universe ;  philosophy 
as  imperiously  requires  His  immanence  in  nature.  If  either 
Religion  denies  God's  immanence,  or  Philosophy  denies  that 
He  transcends  the  universe,  there  is  an  absolute  antagonism 
between  the  two,  which  can  only  be  ended  by  the  abandonment 
of  one  or  the  other.  But  what  we  find  is  that  though  Philo- 
sophy (meaning  by  that  the  exercise  of  the  speculative  reason 
in  abstraction  from  morals  and  religion)  the  more  fully  it 
realizes  the  immanence  of  God,  the  more  it  tends  to  deny  the 
transcendence,  religion  not  only  has  no  quarrel  with  the  doc- 
trine of  immanence,  but  the  higher  the  religion  the  more  unre- 
servedly it  asserts  this  immanence  as  a  truth  dear  to  religion 
itself.  The  religious  equivalent  for  '  immanence '  is  '  omni- 
presence,' and  the  omnipresence  of  God  is  a  corollary  of  a  true 
monotheism.  As  long  as  any  remains  of  dualism  exist,  there 
is  a  region,  however  small,  impervious  to  the  Divine  power. 
But  the  Old  Testament  doctrine  of  creation,  by  excluding 
dualism,  implies  from  the  first,  if  it  does  not  teach,  the  omni- 
presence of  God.  For  the  omnipotence  of  God  underlies  the 
doctrine  of  creation,  and  omnipotence  involves  omnipresence. 
Hence  we  find  the  Psalmists  and  Prophets  ascribing  natural 
processes  immediately  to  God.  They  know  nothing  of  second 
causes.  The  main  outlines  of  natural  science,  the  facts  of 
generation  and  growth,  are  familiar  enough  to  them,  yet 
every  fact  is  ascribed  immediately  to  the  action  of  God.  He 
makes  the  grass  to  grow  upon  the  mountains ;  He  fashions 

•     ii.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  95 

the  child  in  the  womb ;  He  feeds  the  young  ravens ;  He  pro- 
vides fodder  for  the  cattle ;  He  gives  to  all  their  meat  in  due 
season  ;  when  He  lets  His  breath  go  forth  they  are  made  ;  when 
He  takes  away  their  breath  they  die  and  return  to  dust. 

This  doctrine  of  the  omnipresence  of  God,  as  conceived  by 
religion,  had  however  yet  to  be  fused  with  the  philosophical 
doctrine  of  immanence.  And  here  again  the  fusion  was  effected 
by  the  Christian  doctrine  of  God,  as  Trinity  in  Unity.  The 
earlier  Apologists  concern  themselves  first  with  the  vindica- 
tion of  the  Divine  attributes.  God's  separateness  from  the 
world  as  against  Greek  Pantheism,  His  omnipresence  in  it  as 
against  a  Judaising  deism.  But  the  union  of  God's  transcen- 
dence with  His  immanence,  and  with  it  the  fusion  of  the 
religious  with  the  philosophic  idea  of  God,  is  only  consciously 
completed  by  the  Doctrine  of  the  Trinity l.  The  dying  words 
of  Plotinus,  expressing  as  they  did  the  problem  of  his  life,  are 
said  to  have  been, — '  I  am  striving  to  bring  the  God  which  is 
within  into  harmony  with  the  God  which  is  in  the  universe.' 
And  the  unsolved  problem  of  Neo-Platonism,  which  is  also  the 
unsolved  problem  of  non-Christian  philosophy  in  our  day,  is 
met  by  the  Christian  doctrine  of  God.  All  and  more  than  all 
that  philosophy  and  science  can  demand,  as  to  the  immanence 
of  reason  in  the  universe,  and  the  rational  coherence  of  all  its 
parts,  is  included  in  the  Christian  teaching :  nothing  which 
religion  requires  as  to  God's  separateness  from  the  world, 
which  He  has  made,  is  left  unsatisfied.  The  old  familiar 
Greek  term  AOFO2  which,  from  the  days  of  Heracleitus, 
had  meant  to  the  Greek  the  rational  unity  and  balance  of 
the  world,  is  taken  up  by  S.  John,  by  S.  Clement,  by 
S.  Athanasius,  and  given  a  meaning  which  those  who  started 
from  the  Philonian  position  never  reached.  It  is  the 
personal  Word,  God  of  God,  the  Only  Begotten  of  the  Father, 
who  is  one  in  the  Holy  Spirit  with  the  Father.  '  The 
Word  was  God.'  'By  Him  all  things  were  made.'  'He  the 
All-powerful,  All-holy  Word  of  the  Father  spreads  His 
power  over  all  things  everywhere,  enlightening  things  seen 
and  unseen,  holding  and  binding  all  together  in  Himself. 

1  Dorner,  Hist,  of  Doct.  i.  p.  366. 

96  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

Nothing  is  left  empty  of  His  presence,  but  to  all  things  and 
through  all,  severally  and  collectively,  He  is  the  giver  and  sus- 
tainer  of  life.  .  .  .  He,  the  Wisdom  of  God,  holds  the  universe 
like  a  lute,  and  keeps  all  things  in  earth  and  air  and  heaven 
in  tune  together.  He  it  is  Who  binding  all  with  each,  and 
ordering  all  things  by  His  will  and  pleasure,  produces  the 
perfect  unity  of  nature,  and  the  harmonious  reign  of  law. 
While  He  abides  unmoved  for  ever  with  the  Father,  He  yet 
moves  all  things  by  His  own  appointment  according  to  the 
Father's  will  V  The  unity  of  nature  is,  thus,  no  longer  the 
abstract  motionless  simplicity  of  Being,  which  had  been  so 
powerless  to  explain  the  metaphysical  problems  of  Greece. 
It  is  the  living  Omnipresent  Word,  coeternal  and  consub- 
stantial  with  the  Father,  and  the  philosophical  truth  becomes 
an  integral  part  of  that  Christian  doctrine  of  God,  which, 
while  it  safeguarded  religion  and  satisfied  reason,  had  won 
its  first  and  greatest  victories  in  the  field  of  morals. 

VII.  The  Christian  doctrine  of  God  triumphed  over  heathen 
morality  and  heathen  speculation  neither  by  unreasoning 
protest  nor  by  unreal  compromise,  but  by  taking  up  into 
itself  all  that  was  highest  and  truest  in  both.  Why  then  is 
this  Christian  idea  of  God  challenged  in  our  day  1  Have 
we  outgrown  the  Christian  idea  of  God,  so  that  it  cannot 
claim  and  absorb  the  new  truths  of  our  scientific  age  1  If 
not,  with  the  lessons  of  the  past  in  our  mind,  we  may  con- 
fidently ask, — What  fuller  unfolding  of  the  revelation  of 
Himself  has  God  in  store  for  us,  to  be  won,  as  in  the  past, 
through  struggle  and  seeming  antagonism  ? 

The  fact  that  the  Christian  Theology  is  now  openly 
challenged  by  reason  is  obvious  enough.  It  almost  seems 
as  if,  in  our  intellectual  life,  we  were  passing  through  a 
transition  analogous  to  that  which,  in  the  moral  region, 
issued  in  the  Reformation.  Even  amongst  those  who  be- 
lieve that  Christian  morality  is  true,  there  are  to  be  found 
those  who  have  convinced  themselves  that  we  have  intel- 
lectually outgrown  the  Christian  Faith.  '  The  only  God,'  we 
have  been  told  lately2,  'whom  Western  Europeans,  with  a 

1  S.  Athan.  Contra  Genles,  §  42.  2  Morison's  Service  of  Man,  p.  48. 

ii.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  97 

Christian  ancestry  of  a  thousand  years  behind  them,  can 
worship,  is  the  God  of  Abraham,  Isaac,  and  Jacob  ;  or  rather, 
of  S.  Paul,  S.  Augustine  and  S.  Bernard,  and  of  the  innumer- 
able "  blessed  saints,"  canonized  or  not,  who  peopled  the  ages 
of  Faith.  No  one  wants,  no  one  can  care  for,  an  abstract 
God,  an  Unknowable,  an  Absolute,  with  whom  we  stand  in 
no  human  or  intelligible  relation.'  '  God,  as  God,'  says 
Feuerbach *,  '  the  infinite,  universal,  non-anthropomorphic 
being  of  the  understanding,  has  no  more  significance  in 
religion  than  a  fundamental  general  principle  has  for  a  special 
science ;  it  is  merely  the  ultimate  point  of  support,  as  it  were, 
the  mathematical  point  of  religion.'  Yet  it  is  assumed  that 
this  is  all  that  remains  to  us,  and  we  are  left  in  the  following 
dilemma, — '  An  anthropomorphic  God  is  the  only  God  whom 
men  can  worship,  and  also  the  God  whom  modern  thought 
finds  it  increasingly  difficult  to  believe  in2.' 

In  such  a  state  of  things  it  is  natural  that  men  should  turn 
to  pantheism  as  a  sort  of  middle  term  between  religion  and 
philosophy,  and  even  claim,  for  the  unity  of  the  world,  the 
venerable  name  and  associations  of  God.  But  the  remarkable 
thing  is  that  in  the  numberless  attempts  to  attack,  or  defend, 
or  find  a  substitute  for  Theism,  the  Christian,  or  Trinitarian, 
teaching  about  God  rarely  appears  upon  the  scene.  Devout 
Christians  have  come  to  think  of  the  doctrine  of  the  Trinity, 
if  not  exactly  as  a  distinct  revelation,  yet  as  a  doctrine 
necessary  for  holding  the  divinity  of  Christ,  without  sacri- 
ficing the  unity  of  God.  Ordinary  people  take  it  for  granted 
that  Trinitarianism  is  a  sort  of  extra  demand  made  on  Christian 
faith,  and  that  the  battle  must  really  be  fought  out  on  the 
Unitarian  basis.  If  Unitarian  theism  can  be  defended,  it  will 
then  be  possible  to  go  farther  and  accept  the  doctrine  of  the 
Trinity.  It  is  natural  that  when  Christians  take  this  ground, 
those  who  have  ceased  to  be  Christian  suppose  that,  though 
Christianity  is  no  longer  tenable,  they  may  still  cling  to 
'Theism,'  and  even  perhaps,  under  cover  of  that  nebulous 
term,  make  an  alliance  not  only  with  Jews  and  Mahommedans, 

1  Quoted  by  W.  S.  Lilly,  Nineteenth          2  Morison,  Service  of  Man,  p.  49. 
Century,  Aug.  1888,  p.  292. 


98  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

but  with  at  least  the  more  religious  representatives  of  pan- 
theism. It  is  only  our  languid  interest  in  speculation  or  a 
philistine  dislike  of  metaphysics,  that  makes  such  an  un- 
intelligent view  possible.  Unitarianism  said  its  last  word  in 
the  pre-Christian  and  early  Christian  period,  and  it  failed,  as 
it  fails  now,  to  save  religion  except  at  the  cost  of  reason.  So 
far  from  the  doctrine  of  the  Trinity  being,  in  Mr.  Gladstone's 
unfortunate  phrase,  '  the  scaffolding  of  a  purer  theism,'  non- 
Christian  monotheism  was  the  '  scaffolding '  through  which 
already  the  outlines  of  the  future  building  might  be  seen. 
For  the  modern  world,  the  Christian  doctrine  of  God  remains 
as  the  only  safeguard  in  reason  for  a  permanent  theistic 

It  is  not  difficult  to  see  how  it  is  that  this  truth  is  not  more 
generally  recognised.  The  doctrine  of  the  Trinity,  by  which 
the  Christian  idea  of  God  absorbed  Greek  speculation  into  it- 
self, had  but  little  point  d'appui  in  the  unmetaphysical  western 
world.  It  bore  the  imprimatur  of  the  Church  ;  it  was  easily 
deducible  from  the  words  of  Holy  Scripture ;  it  was  seen  to 
be  essential  to  the  holding  of  the  divinity  of  Christ.  But 
men  forgot  that  the  doctrine  was  '  addressed  to  the  reason  2  ; ' 
and  so  its  metaphysical  meaning  and  value  were  gradually 
lost  sight  of.  In  the  days  of  the  mediaeval  Papacy,  ecclesias- 
tical were  more  effective  than  metaphysical  weapons,  and 
Scholasticism  knew  so  much  about  the  deepest  mysteries  of 
God,  that  it  almost  provoked  an  agnostic  reaction,  in  the 
interests  of  reverence  and  intellectual  modesty.  With  the 
Reformation  came  the  appeal  to  the  letter  of  Holy  Scripture, 

1  It  is  far  from  our  purpose  to  un-  He  wavers  between  a  view  which 
dervalue  the  work  of  Dr.  Martineau.  logically  developed  must  result  in 
No  more  earnest  and  vigorous,  and  so  pantheism,  and  a  view  implying  a 
far  as  it  goes,  no  truer  defence  of  reli-  distinction  in  the  Divine  nature, 
gion  has  been  published  in  our  day.  which  carries  him  far  in  the  Trini- 
But  his  strength  lies  mainly  in  his  tarian  direction.  More  often  he  con- 
protest  against  what  destroys  religion,  tents  himself  with  leaving  the  specu- 
and  in  his  uncompromising  assertion  lative  question  alone,  or  storming 
of  what  religion,  as  a  condition  of  its  the  rational  position  by  the  forces  of 
existence,  demands.  He  has  done  religion  and  morals.  See  A  Study  of 
little  to  shew  us  how  these  demands  Religion,  vol.  ii.  p.  145  compared  with 
can  be  rationally  satisfied,  how  the  p.  192. 

personal    God,   which    religion    de-  2  Newman's  Arians,  p.  84. 

mands,  is  even  an  intelligible  idea. 

ii.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.  99 

and  the  age  of  biblical,  as  contrasted  with  scientific,  theology. 
The  only  scientific  theology  of  the  Reformation  period  was  the 
awful  and  immoral  system  of  John  Calvin,  rigorously  deduced 
from  a  one-sided  truth. 

Then  came  the  age  of  physical  science.  The  break  up  of 
the  mediaeval  system  of  thought  and  life  resulted  in  an 
atomism,  which,  if  it  had  been  more  perfectly  consistent  with 
itself,  would  have  been  fatal  alike  to  knowledge  and  society. 
Translated  into  science  it  appeared  as  mechanism  in  the 
Baconian  and  Cartesian  physics  :  translated  into  politics  it 
appeared  as  rampant  individualism,  though  combined  by 
Hobbes  with  Stuart  absolutism.  Its  theory  of  knowledge 
was  a  crude  empiricism  ;  its  theology  unrelieved  deism.  God 
was  '  throned  in  magnificent  inactivity  in  a  remote  corner  of 
the  universe,'  and  a  machinery  of  '  second  causes  '  had  practi- 
cally taken  His  place.  It  was  even  doubted,  in  the  deistic  age, 
whether  God's  delegation  of  His  power  was  not  so  absolute  as 
to  make  it  impossible  for  Him  to  '  interfere '  with  the  laws  of 
nature.  The  question  of  miracles  became  the  burning  question 
of  the  day,  and  the  very  existence  of  God  was  staked  on  His 
power  to  interrupt  or  override  the  laws  of  the  universe. 
Meanwhile  His  immanence  in  nature,  the  '  higher  pantheism,' 
which  is  a  truth  essential  to  true  religion,  as  it  is  to  true 
philosophy,  fell  into  the  background. 

Slowly  but  surely  that  theory  of  the  world  has  been  under- 
mined. The  one  absolutely  impossible  conception  of  God,  in 
the  present  day,  is  that  which  represents  Him  as  an  occasional 
Visitor.  Science  had  pushed  the  deist's  God  farther  and 
farther  away,  and  at  the  moment  when  it  seemed  as  if  He 
would  be  thrust  out  altogether,  Darwinism  appeared,  and, 
under  the  disguise  of  a  foe,  did  the  work  of  a  friend.  It  has 
conferred  upon  philosophy  and  religion  an  inestimable  benefit, 
by  shewing  us  that  we  must  choose  between  two  alternatives. 
Either  God  is  everywhere  present  in  nature,  or  He  is  nowhere. 
He  cannot  be  here  and  not  there.  He  cannot  delegate  His 
power  to  demigods  called  '  second  causes  V  In  nature 
everything  must  bo  His  work  or  nothing.  We  must  frankly 

1  Cf.  Fiske,  Idea  of  God,  pp.  103,  104.   Martineau,  A  Study  of  Religion,  ii.  1 72, 173. 

H    2 

ioo  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

return  to  the  Christian  view  of  direct  Divine  agency,  the 
immanence  of  Divine  power  in  nature  from  end  to  end,  the 
belief  in  a  God  in  Whom  not  only  we,  but  all  things  have 
their  being,  or  we  must  banish  Him  altogether.  It  seems  as  if, 
in  the  providence  of  God,  the  mission  of  modern  science 
was  to  bring  home  to  our  unmetaphysical  ways  of  thinking 
the  great  truth  of  the  Divine  immanence  in  creation,  which 
is  not  less  essential  to  the  Christian  idea  of  God  than  to  a 
philosophical  view  of  nature.  And  it  comes  to  us  almost  like 
a  new  truth,  which  we  cannot  at  once  fit  it  in  with  the  old. 

Yet  the  conviction  that  the  Divine  immanence  must  be  for 
our  age,  as  for  the  Athanasian  age,  the  meeting  point  of  the 
religious  and  philosophic  view  of  God  is  shewing  itself  in  the 
most  thoughtful  minds  on  both  sides.  Our  modes  of  thought 
are  becoming  increasingly  Greek,  and  the  flood,  which  in  our 
day  is  surging  up  against  the  traditional  Christian  view  of 
God,  is  prevailingly  pantheistic  in  tone.  The  pantheism  is 
not  less  pronounced  because  it  comes  as  the  last  word  of 
a  science  of  nature,  for  the  wall  which  once  separated  physics 
from  metaphysics  has  given  way,  and  positivism,  when  it  is 
not  the  paralysis  of  reason,  is  but  a  temporary  resting-place, 
preparatory  to  a  new  departure.  We  are  not  surprised  then, 
that  one  who,  like  Professor  Fiske,  holds  that  '  the  infinite  and 
eternal  Power  that  is  manifested  in  every  pulsation  of  the 
universe  is  none  other  than  the  living  God/  and  who  vindi- 
cates the  belief  in  a  final  cause  because  he  cannot  believe  that 
'  the  Sustainer  of  the  universe  will  put  us  to  permanent  intel- 
lectual confusion,'  should  instinctively  feel  his  kinship  with 
Athanasianism,  and  vigorously  contend  against  the  view  that 
any  part  of  the  universe  is  '  Godless  V 

Unfortunately,  however,  the  rediscovery  of  the  truth  of 
God's  immanence  in  nature,  coming,  as  it  has  done,  from  the 
side  of  a  scientific  theory,  which  was  violently  assailed  by 
the  official  guardians  of  the  Faith,  has  resulted  for  many  in 
the  throwing  aside  of  the  counter  and  conditioning  truth, 
which  saves  religion  from  pantheism.  It  seemed  as  if  tradi- 
tional Christianity  were  bound  up  with  the  view  that  God  is 
1  Idea  of  God,  cf.  §  v.  and  pp.  105-110. 

ii.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.          101 

wholly  separate  from  the  world  and  not  immanent  in  it. 
And  Professor  Fiske  has  been  misled 1  into  the  belief  that 
S.  Augustine  is  responsible  for  that  false  view.  It  is  almost 
incredible  to  anyone,  who  has  read  any  of  S.  Augustine's 
writings,  that,  according  to  this  view,  he  has  to  play  the 
role  of  the  unintelligent  and  unphilosophical  deist,  who 
thinks  of  God  as  '  a  crudely  anthropomorphic  Being,  far 
removed  from  the  universe  and  accessible  only  through  the 
mediating  offices  of  an  organized  church2.'  And  not  only  is 
S.  Augustine  represented  as  a  deist,  but  S.  Athanasius  is  made 
a  pantheist,  and  the  supposed  conflict  between  science  and 
religion  is,  we  are  told,  really  the  conflict  between  Athanasian 
and  Augustinian  ideas  of  God3.  Yet,  as  a  matter  of  fact, 
S.  Athanasius  and  S.  Augustine  both  alike  held  the  truths 
which  deism  and  pantheism  exaggerate  into  the  destruction 
of  religion.  If  S.  Athanasius  says,  '  The  Word  of  God  is  not 
contained  by  anything,  but  Himself  contains  all  things. .  .  .  He 
was  in  everything  and  was  outside  all  beings,  and  was  at  rest 
in  the  Father  alone 4 : '  S.  Augustine  says,  '  The  same  God 
is  wholly  everywhere,  contained  by  no  space,  bound  by  no 
bonds,  divisible  into  no  parts,  mutable  in  no  part  of  His 
being,  filling  heaven  and  earth  by  the  presence  of  His  power. 
Though  nothing  can  exist  without  Him,  yet  nothing  is  what 
He  is  V 

The  Christian  doctrine  of  God,  in  Athanasian  days, 
triumphed  where  Greek  philosophy  failed.  It  accepted  the 
challenge  of  Greek  thought,  it  recognised  the  demands  of  the 
speculative  reason,  and  found  in  itself  the  answer  which, 
before  the  collision  with  Hellenism,  it  unconsciously  pos- 
sessed. It  is  challenged  again  by  the  metaphysics  of  our 
day.  We  may  be  wrong  to  speculate  at  all  on  the  nature  of 
God,  but  it  is  not  less  true  now  than  in  the  first  centuries  of 
Christianity,  that,  for  those  who  do  speculate,  a  Unitarian,  or 
Arian,  or  Sabellian  theory  is  as  impossible  as  polytheism. 
If  God  is  to  be  Personal,  as  religion  requires,  metaphysics 

1  Apparently  by  Prof.  Allen's  Con-  4  De  Tncarn.  c.  17. 

tinuity  of  Christian  Thought.  5  De  Civ.  Dei,  vii.  c.  xxx  ;  cf.  too  De 

2  Fiske,  Idea  of  God,  p.  94.  Gen.  ad  lit.  iv.  c.  1 2  ;  Enchir.  ad  Laur. 

3  Ibid.,  §  vii.  c.  27. 

IO2  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

demands  still  a  distinction  in  the  Unity  which  unitarianism  is 
compelled  to  deny.  But,  further,  the  Christian  doctrine  of  God 
is  challenged  by  the  science  of  nature.  Science,  imperiously 
and  with  increasing  confidence,  demands  a  unity  in  nature 
which  shall  be  not  external  but  immanent,  giving  rationality 
and  coherence  to  all  that  is,  and  justifying  the  belief  in  the 
universal  reign  of  law.  But  this  immanence  of  God  in  nature 
Unitarian  theism  cannot  give,  save  at  the  price  of  losing 
itself  in  pantheism.  Deistic  it  might  be,  as  it  was  in  the  last 
century  ;  deistic  it  can  be  no  longer,  unless  it  defiantly  rejects 
the  truth  which  science  is  giving  us,  and  the  claims  which 
the  scientific  reason  makes. 

It  remains  then  for  Christianity  to  claim  the  new  truth 
and  meet  the  new  demands  by  a  fearless  reassertion  of  its 
doctrine  of  God.  It  has  to  bring  forth  out  of  its  treasury 
things  new  and  old, — the  old  almost  forgotten  truth  of 
the  immanence  of  the  Word,  the  belief  in  God  as  '  creation's 
secret  force,'  illuminated  and  confirmed  as  that  is  by  the 
advance  of  science,  till  it  comes  to  us  with  all  the  power 
of  a  new  discovery.  Slowly  and  under  the  shock  of  con- 
troversy Christianity  is  recovering  its  buried  truths,  and 
realizing  the  greatness  of  its  rational  heritage.  It  teaches 
still  that  God  is  the  eternally  existent  One,  the  Being  on 
Whom  we  depend,  and  in  Whom  we  live,  the  source  of  all 
reality  and  the  goal  to  which  creation  moves,  the  Object  alike 
of  religion  and  philosophy,  the  eternal  Energy  of  the  natural 
world,  and  the  immanent  reason  of  the  universe.  It  teaches 
that  He  is  the  eternally  Righteous  One,  and  therefore  the 
Judge  of  all,  irrevocably  on  the  side  of  right,  leading  the 
world  by  a  progressive  preparation  for  the  revelation  of 
Himself  as  Infinite  Love  in  the  Incarnation  of  the  Word,  stimu- 
lating those  desires  which  He  alone  can  satisfy,  the  yearning 
of  the  heart  for  love,  of  the  moral  nature  for  righteousness, 
of  the  speculative  reason  for  truth.  When  men  had  wearied 
themselves  in  the  search  for  a  remedy  for  that  which  separates 
men  from  God,  the  revelation  is  given  of  Him  Who  '  shall 
save  His  people  from  their  sins.'  And  when  reason  had  wan- 
dered long,  seeking  for  that  which  should  be  Real  and  yet 

ii.      The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.          103 

One,  a  God  Who  should  satisfy  alike  the  demands  of  religion 
and  reason,  the  doctrine  of  the  Trinity  is  unfolded.  It  was 
the  gradual  revelation  of  God  answering  to  the  growing  needs 
and  capacity  of  man. 

VIII.  It  follows  from  the  point  of  view  adopted  in  the  fore- 
going essay  that  there  can  be  no  proofs,  in  the  strict  sense 
of  the  word,  of  the  existence  of  God.  Reason  has  for  its 
subject-matter,  the  problem  of  essence,  not  of  existence,  the 
question,  '  What  is  God  1 '  not  '  Is  there  a  God  ? '  Proof  can 
only  mean  verification  d  posteriori  of  a  truth  already  held. 
We  approach  the  problem  with  an  unreasoned  conscious- 
ness of  dependence  on  a  Being  or  Beings  who  are  to  us 
invisible.  This  we  interpret  crudely,  or  leave  uninterpreted. 
The  belief  may  express  itself  in  ancestor- worship,  or  nature- 
worship,  or  what  not.  But  as  our  moral  and  intellectual 
nature  develops,  its  light  is  turned  back  upon  this  primi- 
tive undefined  belief.  Conscience  demands  that  God  shall 
be  moral,  and  with  the  belief  that  He  is,  there  comes  con- 
fidence and  trust,  deepening  into  faith  and  hope  and  love : 
the  speculative  reason  demands  that  God  shall  be  One,  the 
immanent  unity  of  all  that  is.  And  the  doctrine  of  God,  which 
is  best  able  to  satisfy  each  and  all  of  these  demands,  persists 
as  the  permanent  truth  of  religion.  But  neither  conscience 
nor  the  speculative  reason  can  demonstrate1  God's  existence. 
And  it  is  always  possible  for  men  to  carry  their  distrust  of 
that  which  is  instinctive  so  far  as  to  assume  that  it  is  always 
false  because  they  have  found  that  it  is  not  always  true. 
Reason  cannot  prove  existence.  The  so-called  proof,  a  con- 
tingentia  (which  underlies  H.  Spencer's  argument  for  the 
existence  of  the  Unknowable),  is  an  appeal  to  that  very  con- 
sciousness of  dependence  which  some  people  consider  a  weak- 
ness, and  a  thing  to  educate  themselves  out  of.  The  appeal 
to  the  consensus  gentium  can  establish  only  the  generality, 
not  the  strict  universality,  of  religion.  It  will  always  be 
possible  to  find  exceptions,  real  or  apparent,  to  the  general 

1  S.  Thos.  Aq.  Sum.  Theol.  I.  i.  that  he  does  not  mean  strict  demon- 
Quaest.  2,  says  that  the  Existence  of  stration,  demonstratio  apodeictica,  but  de- 
God  is  demonstrable,  but  he  explains  monstratio  ab  effectibus. 


IO4  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

rule ;  while  as  for  what  is  known  as  the  ontological  argu- 
ment, which  on  principles  of  reason  would  justify  the  in- 
stinctive belief,  it  requires  a  metaphysical  training  to  under- 
stand it  or  at  least  to  feel  its  force.  There  remain,  however, 
the  two  great  arguments  from  conscience  and  from  nature, 
which  are  so  frequently  discussed  in  the  present  day. 

With  regard  to  the  first,  there  is  no  doubt  that  the  belief  in 
God  will  in  any  age  find  its  strongest  corroboration  in  the 
conscience.  Even  in  the  mind  of  a  Felix  the  ideas  of  '  right- 
eousness, temperance,  and  judgment  to  come '  had  a  strange 
and  terrifying  coherence.  There  is  that  much  of  truth  in  the 
statement  that  religion  is  founded  in  '  fear.'  But  the  argument 
from  conscience  has  been  weakened  by  being  overstated. 
Conscience,  as  we  know  it,  has  won,  not  indeed  its  existence, 
but  the  delicacy  of  its  moral  touch,  and  the  strength  of  its 
'  categorical  imperative/  from  the  assured  belief  in  a  real 
relationship  between  man  and  a  holy  and  loving  God.  When 
that  belief  has  ceased  to  exist,  conscience  still  survives,  and 
it  is  possible  and  justifiable  to  appeal  to  it  as  a  fact  which 
can  be  explained  by  religion,  but  without  religion  must  be 
explained  away.  But  it  is  a  mistake  to  suppose  that  we  can 
take  the  untrained  and  undeveloped  conscience,  and  argue 
direct  from  it  to  a  righteous  God.  The  lumen  naturale,  in 
its  lowest  development,  gives  but  a  faint  and  flickering 
gleam.  We  cannot  argue  back  from  it  to  a  God  of  love,  or 
even  a  God  of  righteousness,  unless  we  interpret  it  in  the 
fuller  light  of  the  conscience  which  has  been  trained  and 
perfected  under  the  growing  influence  of  the  belief.  The  idea 
of '  duty,'  which  is  so  hard  to  explain  on  utilitarian  grounds, 
is  not  to  be  found,  as  we  know  it,  in  Greek  ethics.  For  it 
implies  a  fusion  of  morals  with  religion,  as  we  can  trace  it  in 
the  history  of  Israel,  and  the  teaching  of  Christian  ethics. 
If  it  is  impossible  to  explain  duty  as  the  result  of  association 
between  the  ideas  of  public  and  private  advantage,  it  is  no 
less  impossible  to  make  it  an  independent  premiss  for  a  con- 
clusion which  is  presupposed  in  it. 

The  argument  from  nature  is  closely  parallel.  It  is  hard 
for  those,  whose  lives  have  been  moulded  on  the  belief  in 

ii.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.         105 

God,  the  Maker  of  heaven  and  earth,  to  understand  the  incon- 
clusiveness  of  the  argument  to  those  who  have  abandoned 
that  belief,  and  start,  as  it  were,  from  outside.  Consequently 
it  has  been  made  to  bear  more  than  it  can  carry.  No  doubt 
the  evolution  which  was  at  first  supposed  to  have  destroyed 
teleology  is  found  to  be  more  saturated  with  teleology  than 
the  view  which  it  superseded.  And  Christianity  can  take  up 
the  new  as  it  did  the  old,  and  find  in  it  a  confirmation  of  its 
own  belief.  But  it  is  a  confirmation  not  a  proof,  and  taken 
by  itself  is  incomplete.  It  is  a  great  gain  to  have  eliminated 
chance,  to  find  science  declaring  that  there  must  be  a  reason 
for  everything,  even  when  it  cannot  hazard  a  conjecture  as 
to  what  the  reason  is.  But  apart  from  the  belief  of  our 
moral  nature,  that  in  the  long  run  everything  must  make 
for  righteousness,  that  the  world  must  be  moral  as  well  as 
rational,  and  that  the  dramatic  tendency  in  the  evolution  of 
the  whole  would  be  irrational  if  it  had  not  a  moral  goal,  the 
science  of  nature  is  powerless  to  carry  us  on  to  a  Personal 
God.  But  the  strength  of  a  rope  is  greater  than  the  strength 
of  its  separate  strands.  The  arguments  for  the  existence  of 
God  are,  it  has  been  said,  '  sufficient  not  resistless,  convincing 
not  compelling  V  We  can  never  demonstrate  the  existence  of 
God  either  from  conscience  or  from  nature.  But  our  belief 
in  Him  is  attested  and  confirmed  by  both. 

In  this  matter,  the  belief  in  God  stands  on  the  same  level 
with  the  belief  in  objective  reality.  Both  have  been  explained 
away  by  philosophers.  Neither  can  be  proved  but  by  a 
circular  argument.  Both  persist  in  the  consciousness  of 
mankind.  Both  have  been  purified  and  rationalized  by  the 
growth  of  knowledge.  But  the  moment  reason  attempts  to 
start  without  assumptions,  and  claims  exclusive  sovereignty 
over  man,  a  paralysis  of  thought  results.  There  have  been, 
before  now,  philosophers  who  professed  to  begin  at  the  be- 
ginning, and  accept  nothing  till  it  was  proved,  and  the  result 
was  a  pure  Pyrrhonism.  They  could  not  prove  the  existence 
of  an  external  world.  They  believed  it,  even  if  they  did  not, 
like  Hume,  exult  in  the  fact  that  belief  triumphed  over 

1  The  Existence  of  God.     By  Rev.  R.  F.  Clarke,  S.J.,  p.  6. 

io6  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

demonstration,  but  there  was  no  sure  ground  for  believing 
that  the  world  was  not  a  mere  cerebral  phenomenon,  except 
the  curiously  rational  coherence  of  its  visions.  Even  Prof. 
Huxley,  in  his  ultra-sceptical  moods,  admits  this.  He  says  x 
that  '  for  any  demonstration  that  can  be  given  to  the  contrary 
effect,  the  "  collection  of  perceptions,"  which  makes  up  our 
consciousness,  may  be  an  orderly  phantasmagoria  generated 
by  the  Ego,  unfolding  its  successive  scenes  on  the  background 
of  the  abyss  of  nothingness.'  But  no  one,  least  of  all  a  man 
of  science,  believes  this  to  be  so.  He  takes  reality  for  granted, 
and  only  tries  to  interpret  it  aright,  i.  e.  in  such  a  way  as  to 
make  a  rational  unity  of  the  facts  perceived.  Tell  a  scien- 
tific specialist, — '  I  am  not  going  to  let  you  beg  the  question. 
You  must  first  prove  that  nature  exists,  and  then  I  will  hear 
about  the  science  of  nature,'  and  he  will  say  '  That  is  meta- 
physics,' which  to  him  is  probably  a  synonym  for  an  intel- 
lectual waste  of  time.  '  Look  at  nature,'  he  will  say,  '  what 
more  do  you  want  1  If  nature  had  been  merely  a  phantas- 
magoria there  would  have  been  no  science  of  nature.  Of 
course  you  must  make  your  "  act  of  faith  2."  You  must  believe 
not  only  that  nature  exists,  but  that  it  is  a  cosmos  which  can 
be  interpreted,  if  you  can  only  find  the  key.  The  proof  that 
nature  is  interpretable  is  that  we  have,  at  least  in  part,  been 
able  to  interpret  her.  There  were  people  in  John  Locke's  day 
who  professed  to  doubt  their  own  existence,  and  he  was 
content  to  answer  them  according  to  their  folly.  "If  any- 
one," he  says  3,  "  pretends  to  be  so  sceptical  as  to  deny  his 
own  existence  (for  really  to  doubt  of  it  is  manifestly  impos- 
sible) let  him,  for  me,  enjoy  his  beloved  happiness  of  being 
nothing,  until  hunger,  or  some  other  pain,  convince  him  to 
the  contrary." '  We  do  not  call  a  scientific  man  unreasonable 
if  he  answers  thus,  though  he  is  justifying  his  premisses  by 
his  conclusion.  We  know  that  he  that  would  study  nature 

1  Huxley's  Hume,  p.  81.  act  of  faith,  because,  by  the  nature  of 

a  '  The  one  act  of  faith  in  the  con-  the  case,  the  truth  of  such  proposi- 

vert  to  science,  is  the  confession  of  tions    is    not   susceptible   of    proof.' 

the  universality  of  order  and  of  the  Huxley   in   Darwin's  Life  and  Letters, 

absolute  validity,  in   all   times  and  vol.  ii.  p.  200. 

under  all  circumstances,  of  the  law  3  Essay  IV.  10.  §  2. 

of  causation.     This  confession  is  an 

ii.     The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.          107 

must  believe  that  it  is,  and  that  it  is  a  rational  whole  which 
reason  can  interpret.  And  '  he  that  cometh  to  God  must 
believe  that  He  is,  and  that  He  is  the  rewarder  of  such  as 
diligently  seek  Him.'  We  feel  our  kinship  with  both  before 
the  instinctive  consciousness  is  justified  by  reason. 

And  there  is  a  remarkable  parallelism  in  the  process  of 
verification.  The  counterpart  of  the  theological  belief  in  the 
unity  and  omnipresence  of  God  is  the  scientific  belief  in  the 
unity  of  nature  and  the  reign  of  law.  But  that  belief,  though 
implicit  in  the  simplest  operation  of  reason 1,  is  not  con- 
sciously attained  till  late  in  the  history  of  science.  And  even 
when  it  is  reached,  it  is  not  at  once  grasped  in  all  its  wealth 
and  fulness.  It  is  thought  of  as  mere  uniformity,  a  dull 
mechanical  repetition  of  events,  which  is  powerless  to  explain 
or  include  the  rich  variety  of  nature  and  the  phenomena  of 
life  and  growth.  It  is  to  meet  this  difficulty  that  J.  S.  Mill 
naively  assures  us  that  '  the  course  of  nature  is  not  only 
uniform,  it  is  also  infinitely  various2.'  But  soon  the  truth  is 
grasped,  that  the  reign  of  law  is  a  unity  which  is  higher  than 
mere  uniformity,  because  it  is  living  and  not  dead,  and 
includes  and  transcends  difference.  It  is  the  analogue  in 
science  to  that  higher  and  fuller  view  of  God  in  which  He  is 
revealed  as  Trinity  in  Unity. 

But  as  these  parallel  processes  of  verification  go  on,  the 
truth  is  forced  upon  the  world  that  religion  and  philosophy 
must  either  be  in  internecine  conflict,  or  recognise  the  oneness 
of  their  Object.  'We  and  the  philosophers,'  says  S.  Cle- 
ment, '  know  the  same  God,  but  not  in  the  same  way  V 
Philosophy  and  religion  have  both  been  enriched  by  wider 
knowledge,  and  as  their  knowledge  has  become  deeper  and 
fuller,  the  adjustment  of  their  claims  has  become  more  impera- 
tively necessary.  Few  in  our  day  would  willingly  abandon 
either,  or  deliberately  sacrifice  one  to  the  other.  Many  would 
be  ready  to  assent  to  the  words  of  a  Christian  Father ;  '  when 
philosophy  and  the  worship  of  the  gods  are  so  widely 
separated,  that  the  professors  of  wisdom  cannot  bring  us 

1  Cf.  Green's  Works,  vol.  ii.  p.  284. 
2  Log.  Bk.  III.  ch.  iii.  §  2.  3  Strom,  vi.  5. 

io8  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

near  to  the  gods,  and  the  priests  of  religion  cannot  give  us 
wisdom ;  it  is  manifest  that  the  one  is  not  true  wisdom,  and 
the  other  is  not  true  religion.  Therefore  neither  is  philo- 
sophy able  to  conceive  the  truth,  nor  is  religion  able  to 
justify  itself.  But  where  philosophy  is  joined  by  an  insepar- 
able connection  with  religion,  both  must  necessarily  be 
true,  because  in  our  religion  we  ought  to  be  wise,  that  is, 
to  know  the  true  Object  and  mode  of  worship,  and  in  our 
wisdom  to  worship,  that  is,  to  realize  in  action  what  we 
know  V 

It  is  sometimes  argued, — You  have  let  in  more  than  the 
thin  end  of  the  wedge.  You  admit  that  '  it  is  the  province 
of  reason  to  judge  of  the  morality  of  the  Scripture2.'  You 
profess  no  antagonism  to  historical  and  literary  criticism. 
Under  the  criticism  of  reason,  Fetichism  has  given  way  to 
Polytheism,  Polytheism  to  Monotheism,  even  Monotheism  has 
become  progressively  less  anthropomorphic.  Why  object  to 
the  last  step  in  the  process,  and  cling  to  the  belief  in  a 
Personal  God  ?  Simply  because  it  would  make  the  difference 
between  a  religion  purified  and  a  religion  destroyed.  The 
difference  between  the  30,000  gods  of  Hesiod,and  the  One  God  of 
Christianity,  is  a  measurable  difference  :  the  difference  between 
a  Personal  God  and  an  impersonal  reason  is,  so  far  as  religion 
is  concerned,  infinite.  For  the  transition  from  Monotheism,  to 
Pantheism  is  made  only  by  the  surrender  of  religion,  though 
the  term  '  theism '  may  be  used  to  blur  the  line  of  separation, 
and  make  the  transition  easy. 

Religion  has,  before  all  things,  to  guard  the  heritage  of  truth, 
the  moral  revelation  of  God  in  Christ,  to  '  contend  earnestly 
for  the  faith  once  delivered  to  the  saints,'  and  to  trust  to  the 
promised  guidance  of  the  Spirit  of  Truth.  And  reason  inter- 
prets religion  to  itself,  and  by  interpreting  verifies  and  con- 
firms. Religion  therefore  claims  as  its  own  the  new  light 
which  metaphysics  and  science  are  in  our  day  throwing  upon 
the  truth  of  the  immanence  of  God :  it  protests  only  against 
those  imperfect,  because  premature,  syntheses,  which  in  the 

1  Lact.  Institt.  IV.  iii. 

2  Butler's  Analogy,  Pt.  II.  ch.  hi.  p.  183. 

ii.      The  Christian  Doctrine  of  God.          109 

interests  of  abstract  speculation,  would  destroy  religion.  It 
dares  to  maintain  that  '  the  Fountain  of  wisdom  and  religion 
alike  is  God :  and  if  these  two  streams  shall  turn  aside  from 
Him,  both  must  assuredly  run  dry.'  For  human  nature  craves 
to  be  both  religious  and  rational.  And  the  life  which  is  not 
both  is  neither. 





THE  problem  of  pain,  always  prominent  in  a  sensitive  age, 
has  been  exceptionally  emphasized  in  the  literature  of  modern 
pessimism  as  an  objection  to  Theism  in  general,  and  Chris- 
tianity in  particular.  The  existence  of  pain  is  urged  as  in- 
compatible with  the  belief  in  a  God  who  is  at  once  omnipotent 
and  benevolent,  that  is  with  Theism  in  its  ordinary  form ; 
while  Christianity  is  further  charged  with  being  a  religion 
of  pain,  a  religion  which  has  increased  the  sum  of  actual,  and 
the  expectation  of  prospective  pain,  darkening  the  shadow 
that  lies  upon  our  race.  Suffering  is  not  a  subject  upon 
which  anything  new  can  be  said.  It  has  long  ago  been 
probed,  to  the  utmost  limit  of  our  capacity,  and  remains  a 
mystery  still.  But,  in  face  of  the  adverse  use  now  made  of 
it,  it  may  be  well  to  bear  in  mind  how  much  has  been  said 
and  is  to  be  said  upon  the  other  side. 

To  begin  with,  there  are  two  classes  of  pain,  animal  and 
human,  which  however  intimately  they  may  be  connected 
must,  for  clearness,  be  considered  apart.  The  universality  of 
pain  throughout  the  range  of  the  animal  world,  reaching  back 
into  the  distant  ages  of  geology,  and  involved  in  the  very 
structure  of  the  animal  organism,  is  without  doubt  among 
the  most  serious  problems  which  the  Theist  has  to  face.  But 
it  is  a  problem  in  dealing  with  which  emotion  is  very  often 
mistaken  for  logic.  J.  S.  Mill's  famous  indictment  of  nature, 
for  example,  is  one  of  the  most  emotional  pieces  of  rhetoric  of 
which  a  professed  logician  was  ever  guilty.  When  a  certain 
class  of  facts  is  urged  in  objection  to  our  Christian  belief,  we 

ii4  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

are  entitled  to  ask  how  many  of  those  facts  are  known,  and 
how  many  are  only  imagined.  There  is  of  course  a  scientific 
use  of  the  imagination,  but  it  is  only  permissible  within  the 
bounds  of  possible,  or  at  least  conceivable,  verification.  Imagi- 
native conjectures  which,  from  the  nature  of  the  case,  will 
never  admit  either  of  verification  or  disproof  are  poetry  and 
not  science,  and  must  be  treated  as  such  in  argument.  With 
all  the  changes  that  have  passed  over  our  knowledge,  we  may 
still  do  well  to  attend  to  the  caution  with  which  Butler  begins 
his  Analogy : — 

'  One  cannot  but  be  greatly  sensible  how  difficult  it  is  to 
silence  imagination  enough  to  make  the  voice  of  reason  even 
distinctly  heard  ;  as  we  are  accustomed  from  our  youth  up  to 
indulge  that  forward  delusive  faculty,  ever  obtruding  beyond 
its  sphere  ;  of  some  assistance  indeed  to  apprehension,  but  the 
author  of  all  error :  as  we  plainly  lose  ourselves  in  gross  and 
crude  conceptions  of  things,  taking  for  granted  that  we  are 
acquainted  with  what  indeed  we  are  wholly  ignorant  of.' 

This  needs  repeating,  because  much  of  the  popular  knowledge 
of  the  day  consists  in  the  acceptance  of  results  without  ex- 
amination of  the  methods  of  their  attainment ;  somewhat  as, 
in  the  countryman's  simple  faith,  a  thing  must  needs  be  true 
because  he  has  seen  it  in  a  book.  While  the  case  in  point  is 
further  confused  by  the  fact  that  imagination  has  an  impor- 
tant bearing  on  all  our  conduct  towards  the  lower  animals, 
and  cannot,  for  that  purpose,  be  too  emotionally  developed. 
But  it  is  one  thing  to  err  on  the  safe  side  in  practice,  and  an- 
other to  convert  such  possible  error  into  argument. 

What  then  do  we  really  know  about  the  suffering  of 
animals'?  No  reasonable  man  doubts  that  they  suffer.  But 
the  degree  and  intensity  of  their  suffering  is  almost  entirely 
a  matter  of  conjecture.  We  speak  of,  and  are  affected  by  the 
mass  of  animal  suffering;  but  we  must  remember  that  it  is 
felt  distributively.  No  one  animal  suffers  more  because  a 
million  suffer  likewise.  And  what  we  have  to  consider  is  the 
amount  which  an  individual  animal  suffers.  We  have  no 
knowledge,  but  we  are  entitled  to  meet  conjecture  by  conjec- 
ture. We  may  fairly  suppose  that  the  animals  do  not  '  look 

in.     The  Problem  of  Pain.  1 1 5 

before  and  after,'  and  it  is  this  that  gives  its  sting  to  human 
pain.  Again,  they  would  seem  like  children  to  give  strong 
indications  of  slight  pain.  Further,  many  muscular  contor- 
tions which  simulate  extreme  suffering  are  believed  on  scien- 
tific evidence  to  be  due  to  quite  other  causes.  And  then  there 
are  the  phenomena  of  fascination,  which  may  well  resemble 
the  experience  of  Livingstone  in  the  lion's  mouth.  While 
many  pains  are  prophylactic  and  directly  contribute  to  the 
avoidance  of  danger  and  maintenance  of  life.  All  these  con- 
siderations may  mitigate  our  view  of  animal  suffering.  But 
a  stronger  argument  is  to  be  drawn  from  our  profound  ignor- 
ance of  the  whole  question.  Animals  can  perceive  colours 
invisible  to  us  ;  they  seem  to  have  organs  of  sensation  of 
whose  nature  we  know  nothing ;  their  instincts  are  far  more 
numerous  and  finer  than  our  own  ;  what  compensations  may 
they  not  have  1  Again,  what  are  they "?  Had  they  a  past  1 
May  they  not  have  a  future1?  What  is  the  relation  of  their 
consciousness  to  the  mighty  life  which  pulses  within  the  uni- 
verse ?  May  not  Eastern  speculation  about  these  things  be 
nearer  the  truth  than  Western  science?  All  these  questions 
are  in  the  region  of  the  unknown,  and  the  unknowable  ;  and 
in  face  of  them  the  Theistic  position  is  simply  this.  We  be- 
lieve, on  complex  and  cumulative  proof,  in  an  omnipotent  and 
benevolent  Creator.  That  belief  is  a  positive  verdict  of  our 
reason,  interpreting  evidence  which  we  consider  irresistible. 
And  against  such  a  conclusion  no  presumption  of  the  imagi- 
nation, which  from  the  nature  of  the  case  cannot  possibly  be 
verified,  has  any  logical  validity  at  all :  not  to  mention  that 
such  presumptions  admit  of  being  met  by  as  probable  pre- 
sumptions on  the  other  side.  We  decline  to  arraign  our 
Creator  for  a  deed  which  we  have  not  even  the  means  of 
knowing  that  He  has  done. 

'  All  difficulties  as  to  how  they  (the  animals)  are  to  be  dis- 
posed of  are  so  apparently  and  wholly  founded  in  our  ignor- 
ance that  it  is  wonderful  they  should  be  insisted  upon  by  any 
but  such  as  are  weak  enough  to  think  they  are  acquainted 
with  the  whole  system  of  things.'  .  .  .  .  '  What  men  require  is 
to  have  all  difficulties  cleared  ;  and  this  is,  or  at  least  for 

i  2 

n  6  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

anything  we  know  to  the  contrary  it  may  be,  the  same  as 
requiring  to  comprehend  the  Divine  nature,  and  the  whole 
plan  of  providence  from  everlasting  to  everlasting  V 

But  with  human  suffering  the  case  is  different,  for  here  we 
are  in  a  measure  behind  the  scenes.  We  watch  the  process 
no  longer  from  the  outside  but  from  within ;  and  though  it 
still  remains  mysterious,  its  mystery  is  full  of  meaning.  In 
saying  this  we  make  two  assumptions ;  first,  that  moral  evil 
is  an  ultimate  fact  for  us,  in  our  present  state  of  being,  in  the 
sense  that  it  can  neither  be  explained  nor  explained  away : 
and,  secondly,  that  character  and  not  pleasure,  being,  and  not 
feeling,  or  to  phrase  it  more  generally,  the  greatest  goodness 
of  the  greatest  number,  is  the  primary  end  of  ethics.  The  first 
of  these  assumptions  most  men  are  willing  to  admit,  while  the 
few  philosophical  attempts  to  disprove  it  have  conspicuously 
failed.  The  second  has  the  assent  of  all  moralists  except  the 
hedonists,  and  those  who  without  being  aware  of  it  are 
hedonists  in  disguise  ;  the  pessimism,  for  example,  which 
makes  so  much  of  pain,  being  simply  disappointed  hedonism. 
Starting  then  from  these  premises,  the  problem  of  practical 
ethics  is  the  formation  of  character  in  the  face  of  moral  evil. 
And  in  the  solution  of  this  problem  pain  and  sorrow  have  a 
place  which  no  other  known  agency  conceivably  could  fill. 

To  begin  with  its  simplest  if  lowest  aspect,  pain  is  a 
punishment ;  and  without  importing  any  a  priori  notions 
into  the  question,  we  find  punishment  to  be  a  necessary  ele- 
ment in  the  evolution  of  character.  Punishment  is  a  complex 
thing,  and  the  tendency  of  civilization  is  to  lay  stress  upon  its 
corrective  rather  than  its  vindictive  aspect.  But  we  must 
remember  that  with  uncivilized  races  this  cannot  be  the  case ; 
and  that  pains  and  penalties,  considered  simply  as  retrospec- 
tive vengeance  for  the  past,  have  been  historically,  and  in 
some  cases  still  are,  essential  to  our  social  development. 
Indeed,  it  is  a  shallow  view  that  regards  vengeance  as  a 
survival  of  savagery.  Vengeance  is  intimately  bound  up 
with  our  sense  of  justice,  and  the  true  difference  between  the 
savage  and  the  sage  is  that  what  the  one  eagerly  inflicts  upon 

1  Butler,  Analogy. 

in.     The  Problem  of  Pain.  1 1  7 

his  neighbour,  the  other  would  far  more  willingly  inflict  upon 
himself.  Plato  expressed  this  once  for  all  when  he  said  that 
the  sinner  who  is  punished  is  happier  than  the  sinner  who 
escapes  scot  free.  We  rightly  shrink,  as  far  as  possible,  from 
sitting  in  judgment  on  our  fellow-men  ;  but  we  feel  none  the 
less  that  our  own  ill  deeds  demand  a  penalty,  which  may 
vary  from  bodily  suffering  to  interior  shame,  but  which  in 
one  form  or  another  must  be  endured  before  we  can  recover 
our  self-respect.  And  self-respect  is  a  necessary  factor  in  all 
moral  progress.  Punishment,  then,  considered  as  vengeance, 
is  a  necessity  for  the  social  development  of  barbarous  races  ; 
and  though  less  obviously,  quite  as  really  for  the  personal 
progress  of  the  civilized  man. 

Now,  without  committing  ourselves  to  the  statement  that 
suffering  was  introduced  into  the  world  by  sin,  which  is  not 
a  Christian  dogma,  though  it  is  often  thought  to  be  so,  a  vast 
amount  of  the  suffering  in  the  world  is  obviously  punishment, 
and  punishment  of  a  very  searching  kind.  For  not  only  are 
obvious  vices  punished  with  remorse,  and  disease,  and  shame, 
but  ignorance,  impatience,  carelessness,  even  mistakes  of  judg- 
ment are  punished  too,  and  that  in  a  degree  which  we  are  apt 
to  consider  disproportionate  ;  forgetful  that  consequences  are 
God's  commentaries,  and  this  apparent  disproportion  may 
reflect  light  upon  the  real  magnitude  of  what  we  often  are 
too  ready  to  consider  trivial  things. 

But  these  punishments,  it  is  urged,  fall  on  the  innocent  as 
well  as  the  guilty.  And  this  leads  us  to  another  point  of 
view.  Pain  is  not  only  punitive.  It  is  also  corrective  and 
purgatorial.  And  this  again  is  a  fact  of  ordinary  experience, 
quite  apart  from  the  further  consideration  of  why  it  should  be 
so.  Among  primitive  races  the  penalties  of  law,  by  the  merely 
mechanical  process  of  forcibly  restraining  certain  actions, 
slowly  elevate  the  social  tone.  And  as  men  rise  in  the  scale 
of  development  and  begin  to  be  a  law  to  themselves,  the  same 
process  is  continued  within  the  individual  mind.  The  pains 
and  penalties  of  evil  doing,  physical  and  mental,  tend  to 
correct  and  purify  the  character ;  and  when  we  say  that  men 
learn  wisdom  by  experience,  we  mostly  mean  by  experience  of 

1 1 8  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

something  painful.  Of  course,  the  most  obvious  form  of  this 
correction  is  that  in  which  the  suffering  can  be  recognised  by 
the  sufferer  as  merited,  because  due  to  his  own  misdeeds.  But 
apart  from  such  causal  connection,  what  we  call  unmerited 
suffering  exercises  the  same  influence  in  an  even  greater 
measure.  Its  forces,  not  being  exhausted  in  the  work  of 
neutralising  past  evil,  are  able  to  expand  and  expend  them- 
selves in  a  positive  direction,  elevating,  refining,  dignifying 
the  character  to  an  infinite  degree.  The  men  of  sorrows  are 
the  men  of  influence  in  every  walk  of  life.  Martyrdom  is  the 
certain  road  to  success  in  any  cause.  Even  more  than  know- 
ledge, pain  is  power.  And  all  this  because  it  develops  the 
latent  capacities  of  our  being  as  no  other  influence  can.  It 
requires  no  mystic  insight  to  see  the  truth  of  this.  However 
unable  we  may  be  to  account  for  it,  it  is  a  fact  of  everyday 
experience,  visible  to  ordinary  common  sense.  And  this  being 
so,  there  is  nothing  of  necessity  unjust  in  what  we  call  un- 
merited suffering,  not  even  in  the  sad  inheritance  by  children 
of  the  results  of  parental  sin.  For  while  the  sight  of  the 
miserable  entail  may,  if  rightly  used,  become  the  parent's 
punishment,  its  imposition  may  be  the  child's  call  to  higher 
things.  True,  like  all  other  useful  agencies,  it  often  fails  of 
its  end  ;  but  such  failure  is  of  the  problem  of  evil,  not  of  the 
problem  of  pain. 

And,  lastly,  with  men,  as  with  animals,  suffering  is  largely 
prophylactic.  Bodily  pain  sounds  the  alarm  bell  of  disease  in 
time  for  its  removal.  Mental  and  moral  pain  arrest  the 
issues  of  ignorant  or  evil  courses  before  it  is  too  late.  While 
the  desire  to  remove  pain  from  ourselves,  or  better  still  from 
others,  is  among  the  strongest  incentives  of  the  scientific  dis- 
coverer, the  patriot,  the  philanthropist.  And  though  it  may 
seem  a  fallacy  to  credit  pain  with  the  virtues  which  spring 
from  the  desire  for  its  removal,  common  sense  rises  above 
logic  and  recognises  the  real  value  of  a  spur  without  which 
many  of  our  noblest  activities  would  cease. 

Now,  though  all  these  considerations  naturally  lead  on  into 
theology  for  their  further  treatment,  yet  it  should  be  noticed 
that  they  are  in  no  sense  exclusively  theological.  The  penal, 

in.     The  Problem  of  Pain.  119 

the  corrective,  the  preventive,  and  the  stimulating  uses  of  pain 
are  all  recognised  in  the  average  man's  philosophy  of  life. 
Indeed,  they  are  too  obvious  to  need  dwelling  on  at  any  length. 
But  the  point  to  be  noticed  is,  that  taken  together,  they  cover  a 
very  great  deal  of  ground.  For  it  is  hardly  too  much  to  say  that 
in  one  or  other  of  its  various  aspects,  every  human  being  has 
need  of  suffering  for  the  due  development  of  his  character.  And 
this  is  a  fact  which  should  go  far  to  outweigh  much  brilliant 
declamation  of  the  pessimists.  Pessimism,  in  fact,  stereotypes 
and  gives  a  fictitious  permanence  to  what  is  only  one  among 
our  many  moods  of  thought.  It  harps  upon  the  fact  that  we 
naturally  shrink  from  pain.  It  ignores  the  fact  that  we  are 
conscious  of  being  the  better  for  it,  and  unable  to  conceive 
progress  without  it.  And  though  these  considerations  afford 
no  solution  to  the  speculative  mystery  of  pain,  they  make  in 
the  direction  of  a  speculative  solution.  They  do  not  explain 
why  pain  exists,  but  they  shew  us  that  its  existence,  in  the 
only  region  in  which  we  can  really  test  it,  is  eminently  useful, 
and  therefore  consistent  with  providential  and  beneficent 
design.  Their  precise  logical  relation  to  the  Theistic  argument 
might  be  put  as  follows :  Arguments  drawn  from  many 
departments  of  life  and  thought  converge  in  favour  of  Theism, 
but  one  large  and  important  department,  that  of  human 
suffering,  blocks  the  way.  When,  however,  we  isolate  and 
examine  that  department,  we  find  that  even  within  its  limits 
the  evidence  of  provident  purpose  is  prominent,  if  not  prepon- 
derant. Its  prominence  is  certainly  enough  to  neutralize  the 
negative  bearing  of  the  department  upon  the  general  argu- 
ment. Its  preponderance,  which  many  if  not  most  men  would 
admit,  carries  us  further  and  makes  the  net  evidence  of  the 
whole  department  an  affirmative  contribution  to  Theism. 

So  far  common  sense  carries  us.  But  when  we  turn  to  the 
place  of  pain  in  the  religions  of  the  world,  two  further 
thoughts  are  suggested.  In  the  first  place,  the  belief  in  a 
future  life,  which  is  common  to  almost  all  religions,  at  once 
opens  endless  vistas  of  possibility  before  us.  The  pain  which 
has  failed  to  purify  here,  may  yet  purify  hereafter  ;  the  high- 
handed wrong-doing,  which  has  seemed  to  go  unpunished  here, 

1 20  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

may  there  meet  with  its  righteous  due.  The  pains  which  we 
have  thought  excessive  here,  may  there  be  found  to  have 
worked  out  for  us  a  far  more  exceeding  weight  of  glory.  And 
so  the  particular  difficulty  which  arises  from  the  unequal 
incidence  of  earthly  suffering  may  one  day  find  its  adequate 
solution.  No  doubt  there  is  an  element  of  truth  in  the 
familiar  taunt  that  belief  in  a  future  life  has  been  a  curse  as 
well  as  a  blessing  to  the  world.  In  some  stages  of  culture, 
for  example,  the  future  life  has  been  supposed  only  to  em- 
phasize the  inequalities  of  the  present :  the  slave  living  on  in 
everlasting  slavery,  and  the  warrior  in  incessant  war.  But 
this  has  been  a  partial  and  a  passing  phase  of  thought,  which 
rapidly  gave  way  before  more  ethical  conceptions.  The  ethical 
conceptions  in  their  turn,  which  were  based  on  future  rewards 
and  punishments,  confessedly  could  not  produce  a  very  high 
type  of  morality.  But  they  have  filled  their  place,  and  that  a 
large  one  in  the  history  of  human  development,  while  even 
after  ceasing  to  be  the  dominant  motives,  they  still  witness 
to  the  ineradicable  expectation,  of  our  race,  that  holiness  and 
happiness,  sin  and  failure,  shall  one  day  coincide.  More 
serious  and  sad  is  the  fact  that  distorted  dreams  of  future 
punishment  have  often  reflected  a  lurid  light  upon  the  whole 
of  life ;  goading  zealots  into  cruelty,  sinners  into  madness, 
thinkers  into  unbelief;  and  have  lingered  on,  as  savage  sur- 
vivals, even  into  Christian  times,  to  the  hopeless  obscuration, 
in  many  minds,  of  the  creed  that  God  is  Love.  But  even  here 
we  must  draw  distinctions.  Early  races  express  intensity  by 
an  accumulation  of  material  metaphors  —  fecundity  by  an 
hundred  breasts,  omnipotence  and  omniscience  by  an  hundred 
arms  or  a  thousand  eyes.  And  so,  when  they  saw  the  un- 
righteous man  enjoy  the  fruits  of  his  unrighteousness,  and 
die  in  unrebuked  defiance  of  laws  human  and  divine,  their 
sense  of  outraged  justice  could  not  but  express  itself  in 
terms  of  material  horror.  We  have  grown  to  be  more  pitiful, 
more  refined  in  our  moral  thinking,  less  dogmatic  about  un- 
known things :  yet  neither  our  moral  experience  nor  our 
Christianity  has  availed  to  remove  the  dread  of  that  unutter- 
able 'pain  of  loss,'  which  the  passing  of  a  soul  in  obdurate 

in.     The  Problem  of  Pain.  1 2 1 

impenitence  has  ever  suggested  to  the  mind  of  man.  And 
however  confidently  therefore  we  may  put  aside  the  dis- 
tortions, and  debasements,  and  interested  exaggerations  which 
have  darkened  the  thought  of  future  punishment,  we  must 
remember  that  the  thought  itself  was  no  alien  introduction 
into  history;  but  due  to  the  instinctive  craving  of  the  human 
heart  for  justice;  man's  own  tremendous  verdict  on  his  sin1. 
But  the  universality,  or  at  least  extreme  generality  of  the 
belief  in  a  continued  existence,  is  quite  distinct  from  the 
particular  pictures  of  it  which  the  imagination  has  variously 
drawn  ;  much  as  the  universality  of  conscience  is  distinct  from 
its  varying  content  among  diverse  races  and  in  different  ages. 
And  the  broad  fact  remains  that  from  the  dawn  of  history 
the  majority  of  mankind  have  believed  in  and  looked  with 
confidence  to  a  future  life  to  rectify,  and  therefore  justify,  the 
inequalities  of  earthly  suffering  ;  however  much  their  views 
have  varied  as  to  what  should  constitute  rectification. 

Secondly,  there  is  an  instinctive  tendency  in  all  religions, 
from  the  savage  upwards,  to  view  pain,  whether  in  the  form 
of  asceticism  or  sacrifice,  as  inseparably  connected  with  an 
acceptable  service  of  the  gods  or  God.  The  asceticism  of  poor 
Caliban  foregoing  his  little  mess  of  whelks,  and  that  of  the 
Hindoo  whose  meritorious  sufferings  are  expected  to  prevail, 
by  intrinsic  right  with  heaven ;  the  hideous  holocausts  of 
Mexico,  and  the  paper  substitutes  for  offerings  of  the  parsi- 
monious or  hypocritical  Chinee  are  widely  different  things. 
But  they  all  spring  from  a  common  instinct,  variously  dis- 
torted, yet  persistent  through  all  distortions,  and  progressively 
refined,  till  it  culminates  in  the  Hebrew  substitution  of  the 
broken  heart  for  the  blood  of  bulls  and  of  goats.  It  is  the 
custom  of  some  modern  writers  to  represent  the  higher  forms 
of  sacrifice  as  merely  survivals  of  the  savage  desire  to  pro- 
pitiate the  gods  by  food.  But  this  is  not  an  adequate  analysis 
even  of  the  savage  creed.  Naturally  enough  the  primitive 
hunter,  to  whom  food  is  the  chief  good,  may  think  food  the 
worthiest  offering  to  the  gods.  But  it  is  not  simply  food,  but 
his  own  food,  that  he  offers,  the  choicest  morsel,  that  which  it 
1  Cf.  pp.  514-16. 

122  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

costs  him  something  to  forego.  In  other  words,  the  root  of 
sacrifice  is  self-sacrifice,  however  crudely  it  may  be  expressed. 
Of  course,  the  primitive  hypocrite  would  seek  to  evade  personal 
suffering  as  naturally  as  the  civilized  hypocrite  will  give  alms 
at  another  man's  expense.  But  sincerity  must  come  before 
hypocrisy,  and  the  sacrificial  instinct  is  in  origin  sincere.  Its 
first  account  of  itself  may  be  irrational,  and  its  earlier  mani- 
festations often  blundering  and  repulsive  ;  and  if  it  were  now 
only  a  survival,  the  same  should  be  true  of  its  later  forms,  for 
survivals  are  not  commonly  improved  in  the  process  of  surviv- 
ing. But  so  far  from  this  being  the  case,  it  has  been  refined 
by  successive  developments  and  is  as  integral  an  element  of 
later  as  of  earlier  religions,  being  in  fact  the  symbolic  state- 
ment that  a  more  or  less  painful  self-surrender  is  the  necessary 
condition  of  all  human  approach  to  the  divine.  Natural 
religion  then,  in  the  widest  use  of  the  term,  carries  us  on 
beyond  common  sense,  in  attributing  a  mysterious  value  to 
suffering  here,  and  expecting  an  explanation  of  its  anomalies 
hereafter.  The  first  belief  may  be  called  mystical,  the  second 
hypothetical,  and  yet  the  two  together  have  done  more  to 
reconcile  man  to  his  burden  of  sorrow  than  all  the  philosophic 
comments  on  the  uses  of  adversity ;  for  they  have  seemed  to 
lift  him,  though  blindfold,  into  a  loftier  region,  where  he  felt 
himself  inbreathing  power  from  on  high.  And  so  here,  as  in 
other  things,  natural  religion  leads  on  into  Christianity. 

The  relation  of  Christianity  to  the  problem  of  pain,  may  be 
best  seen  by  contrasting  it  with  the  empirical  optimism  of 
common  sense.  Enlightened  common  sense,  as  we  have  seen, 
is  fully  aware  of  the  uses  of  sorrow  ;  but  it  looks  at  the  use- 
fulness through  the  sorrowfulness,  as  a  compensation  which 
should  make  the  wise  man  content  to  bear  his  pain.  The 
change  which  Christianity  has  effected  consists  in  the  reversal 
of  this  view  of  the  subject.  Once  for  all,  it  has  put  the  value 
before  the  painfulness  in  our  thoughts.  The  Author  and 
Finisher  of  our  faith,  '  for  the  joy  that  was  set  before  Him, 
endured  the  Cross,  despising  the  shame,'  and  '  our  light  afflic- 
tion, which  is  but  for  a  moment,  worketh  for  us  a  far  more 
exceeding  weight  of  glory,  while  we  look  not  at  the  things 

in.      The  Problem  of  Pain.  123 

which  are  seen  but  at  the  things  which  are  unseen.'  It  bids 
us  not  wait  '  till  the  sorrow  comes  with  years,'  but  take  up 
our  cross,  from  the  first  moment  of  our  conscious  discipleship. 
And  accordingly  the  real  Christian  looks  at  sorrow  not  from 
without,  but  from  within,  and  does  not  approach  its  specula- 
tive difficulty  till  he  is  aware  by  experience  of  its  practical 
power.  Consequently  he  cannot  explain  himself  to  the  merely 
external  critic.  He  may  urge  in  argument  such  general  con- 
siderations as  have  been  touched  upon  above,  and  meet  the 
pleas  of  pessimism  with  the  counterpleas  of  philosophic  optim- 
ism ;  but  if  pressed  for  the  inner  secret  of  his  own  serenity, 
he  can  only  answer  with  the  esoteric  invitation,  '  Come  and 
see.'  Enter  the  dim  sanctuary  of  sorrow  through  the  shadow 
of  the  Cross.  Abide  there,  and  as  your  eyes  grow  accustomed 
to  the  darkness,  the  strange  lines  upon  its  walls  which  seemed 
at  first  so  meaningless,  will  group  themselves  into  shapes  and 
forms  of  purposeful  design. 

Once  for  all  the  sinless  suffering  of  the  Cross  has  parted 
sin  from  suffering  with  a  clearness  of  distinction  never  before 
achieved.  The  intellectual  Greek  had  tended  to  confuse  the 
two  as  kindred  forms  of  ignorance  ;  the  weary  Oriental  as 
kindred  consequences  of  our  imprisonment  in  the  body,  '  the 
too  too  solid  flesh  ;'  the  self-righteous  Jew  viewed  blindness, 
or  death  from  a  falling  tower,  as  evidence  of  exceptional  sin. 
Everywhere  in  the  ancient  world  the  outlines  of  the  two  were 
undefined,  and  their  true  relation  of  antagonism  misunder- 
stood. But  the  sight  of  perfect  sinlessness,  combined  with 
perfect  suffering,  has  cleared  our  view  for  ever.  Sin  indeed 
always  brings  suffering  in  its  train,  but  the  suffering  we  now 
see  to  be  of  the  nature  of  its  antidote  ;  an  antidote  often  ap- 
plied indeed  with  inexorable  sternness,  but  in  its  intention 
wholly  merciful.  Thus  every  sin  has  its  appropriate  suffering. 
Bodily  indulgence  brings  bodily  disease ;  cruelty  ends  in 
cowardice  ;  pride  and  vanity  in  shame.  And  though  the 
suffering  of  itself  cannot  convert  the  sinner,  it  can  and  does 
prevent  both  the  gratification  and  contagion  of  the  sin. 
Then  comes  the  more  terrible  sorrow  of  remorse  ;  and  remorse 
is  potential  penitence,  and  penitence  potential  purification 

124  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

But  while  sin  thus  involves  suffering,  suffering  does  not  in- 
volve sin.  It  is  not  only  an  antidote,  but  one  of  those  anti- 
dotes which  taken  in  time  is  prophylactic.  And  this  is  not 
only  true  of  the  pains  of  self-denial  and  self-sacrifice,  the 
voluntary  bearing  of  the  cross,  but  of  many  an  involuntary 
sorrow  also.  Delicate  health,  Plato's  bridle  of  Theages,  in- 
herited pain,  privation,  bereavement,  may  all  refine  the  char- 
acter and  train  the  spiritual  eye  to  that  purity  of  heart  that 
shall  see  God.  Pain  in  fact,  in  its  manifold  methods,  is  like 
the  angel  of  the  Eastern  story,  changing  its  form  incessantly 
to  cope  with  the  shifting  shapes  of  sin,  and  passing  by  turns 
into  a  lion,  a  bird,  a  sword,  a  flood,  a  flame,  in  sleepless  eager- 
ness to  follow  and  find,  and  slay  and  quench  and  burn  away 
the  least  last  lingering  particle  of  evil.  So  far  from  being  our 
enemy  it  is  our  safest  ally  in  the  battle  of  life,  and  we  fail 
through  shrinking  from  the  stern  alliance.  We  suffer  because 
we  sin  ;  but  we  also  sin  because  we  decline  to  suffer. 

Still,  the  very  sharpness  of  the  severance  between  sin  and 
suffering  on  the  Cross  forces  upon  us  the  further  question — 
Why  should  the  sinless  suffer  1  The  vicarious  suffering  of 
Christ  is  said  to  conflict  with  our  sense  of  justice.  And  it 
does  so,  as  misrepresented  in  much  popular  theology.  But 
rightly  viewed,  it  is  the  climax  and  complete  expression  of  the 
process  to  which  we  owe  the  entire  evolution  of  our  race. 
The  pleasures  of  each  generation  evaporate  in  air ;  it  is  their 
pains  that  increase  the  spiritual  momentum  of  the  world. 
We  enter  into  life  through  the  travail  of  another.  We  live 
upon  the  death  of  the  animals  beneath  us.  The  necessities, 
the  comforts,  the  luxuries  of  our  existence  are  provided  by 
the  labour  and  sorrow  of  countless  fellow-men.  Our  freedom, 
our  laws,  our  literature,  our  spiritual  sustenance  have  been 
won  for  us  at  the  cost  of  broken  hearts,  and  wearied  brains, 
and  noble  lives  laid  down.  And  this  is  only  the  human 
analogue  of  that  transference  of  energy  by  which  all  life 
and  movement  is  for  ever  carried  on.  The  sun  is  so  much 
the  cooler  by  the  heat  it  daily  gives  to  earth ;  the  plant  and 
tree  the  weaker  by  the  force  that  has  matured  their  fruit ; 
the  animal  generations  exhausted  in  continuing  their  kind. 

in.      The  Problem  of  Pain.  125 

And  how  should  their  Creator  draw  all  men  unto  Him,  but 
through  the  instrumentality  of  His  own  great  law  of  sacrifice  ? 
If  we  shrink  from  our  share  in  the  conditions  of  the  solemn 
legacy,  it  is  easy  to  persuade  ourselves  that  the  system  of 
things  is  wrong.  But  if  we  accept  it,  and  resolve  that  we 
too  in  our  turn  will  spend  and  be  spent  for  others,  we  find 
beneath  all  the  superficial  suffering  the  deep  truth  of  the 
benediction,  '  It  is  more  blessed  to  give  than  to  receive.'  And 
in  the  experience  of  that  benediction  we  see  further  still  into 
the  mysterious  significance  of  sorrow. 

Further ;  but  not  yet  to  the  end.  For  the  human  heart 
desires  more  than  merely  to  work  for  others.  It  desires  to 
be  one  with  those  for  whom  it  works.  Love  is  the  highest 
form  of  that  unity  ;  but  even  short  of  actual  love,  we  in- 
stinctively crave  communion  and  sympathy  with  our  kind. 
And  it  is  no  morbid  view  of  life  to  say  that  sorrow  brings 
about  this  union  in  a  way  that  joy  does  not.  There  is  some- 
thing, under  our  present  conditions,  in  the  very  expansiveness 
of  joy  which  dissociates,  while  sorrow  seems  to  weld  us,  like 
hammer  strokes  on  steel.  It  is  the  nationality  whose  mem- 
bers have  together  struggled  for  existence,  the  soldiers  who 
have  faced  the  shock  of  battle  side  by  side,  the  persecuted 
party,  the  husband  and  wife  who  have  known  common  suf- 
fering that  are  most  intimately,  indissolubly  one.  Nor  is  this 
union  merely  negative  like  the  bond  which  fellow-prisoners 
feel,  and  yet  would  eagerly  escape  from  if  they  could.  It  is 
due  to  a  distinct  sense  that  the  common  crisis  has  aroused  all 
that  is  highest  and  noblest  and  most  spiritual,  and  therefore 
most  sympathetic  in  the  soul. 

But  again,  it  is  only  in  the  light  from  the  Cross,  that  we 
can  see  why  pain  should  possess  this  power.  For  in  that 
light  we  understand  how  pain  unites  us  to  each  other,  be- 
cause, as  even  natural  religion  dimly  felt,  it  unites  us  to  God, 
and  therefore  through  Him  to  those  who  in  Him  live  and 
move  and  have  their  being.  It  unites  us  to  God  because  it 
purifies  us,  because  it  detaches  us  from  earth,  because  it 
quickens  our  sense  of  dependence,  because  it  opens  our  spiri- 
tual vision,  and  above  all  because  He  too,  as  man,  has  suffered. 

126  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

But  the  mystics  who  have  seen  furthest  into  heavenly  things 
have  felt  that  it  unites  us  to  God  in  still  more  vital  wise,  as 
being,  at  least  in  its  form  of  sacrifice,  the  very  beating  of  the 
heart  of  love.  And  so  they  have  raised  the  question, — Has  it 
not  an  antitype  far  in  the  illimitable  depths  of  the  unseen  ? 
For  we  are  told  that  God  is  Love  ;  and  love,  as  we  know  it, 
must  be  shewn  in  sacrifice ;  though  the  sacrifice  grows  pain- 
less in  proportion  as  the  love  is  pure.  And  when  we  recall 
how  in  the  days  of  our  Lord's  ministry  on  earth,  Father,  Son, 
and  Holy  Spirit  bore  their  witness  each  to  other,  but  no  one 
of  the  Holy  Persons  ever  to  Himself,  we  are  led  on  to  wonder 
whether  '  in  the  light  that  no  man  can  approach  unto,'  where 
the  Three  are  One,  some  higher  analogue  of  what  we  call  sacri- 
fice does  not  for  ever  flame ;  whose  radiant  reflection  on  the 
universe  only  becomes  shadow  when  it  falls  on  a  world  of  sin. 
But  however  these  high  things  may  be,  the  simplest  Christian 
feels  and  knows  that,  in  his  present  state,  the  unitive  way, 
the  way  to  union"  with  both  God  and  man,  is  the  '  via  dolo- 
rosa,'  the  way  of  the  cross : — a  serious  and  solemn  belief,  which 
is  very  far  from  leading  to  complacency,  in  presence  of  the 
awful  spectacle  of  animal  and  human  pain  ;  but  still  is  based 
on  sufficient  experience  to  justify  the  hope  that  all  its  mystery 
will  be  one  day  solved.  More  than  this  we  do  not  expect,  for 
the  intellect,  in  our  Christian  view,  is  as  much  on  its  proba- 
tion and  as  liable  to  error  as  the  will ;  and  inordinate  curiosity 
not  less  misleading  than  inordinate  desire. 






THE  paradox  of  Divine  mystery  implied  in  the  words 
'  The  Word  was  made  flesh/  is  not  exhausted  by  a  right 
understanding  of  the  Person  of  Christ.  It  extends  to  the 
relations  between  Christ  and  History.  On  the  one  hand,  the 
Incarnation  of  the  Son  of  God  appears  as  supreme,  solitary, 
unique,  transcending  all  analogies  of  experience,  all  limitations 
of  nationality  or  generation,  determined  before  the  world  was, 
beyond  the  power  of  any  antecedents  to  produce,  the  entry 
of  a  new  thing  into  the  world.  It  appears,  in  short,  as  a 
miracle.  But,  on  the  other  hand,  it  appears  as  an  historical 
event,  occurring  at  a  particular  date,  appealing  to  the  feelings 
and  fulfilling  the  hopes  of  the  time,  a  climax  and  a  new  point 
of  departure  in  the  historical  order.  It  does  this,  necessarily, 
because  this  is  involved  in  the  act  of  taking  flesh,  of  entering 
simply,  literally,  naturally  into  the  conditions  of  human  life. 
Such  a  thing  occurs,  and  must  occur,  in  the  natural  order. 
To  say  this  is  not  to  dictate  what  a  Divine  revelation  must 
be,  but  only  to  shew  what  Christianity  asserts  of  itself.  In 
this  way  it  was  good  in  God's  sight  that  His  revelation 
should  come. 

It  follows  from  this,  in  the  first  place,  that  there  must  be 
two  ways,  both  valid  and  necessary,  of  approaching  in  thought 
and  study  Christ  manifest  in  the  flesh.  We  may  treat  the 
fact  of  His  appearing  with  little  or  no  reference  to  historical 
relations,  for  its  own  inherent  unchanging  truth  and  mean- 
ing. We  may  also  treat  it  as  clothed  in  historical  event, 


130  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

to  be  understood  in  its  relations  with  what  went  before 
and  followed  after  and  stood  around.  The  two  methods 
supplement  one  another.  It  may  be  true  that  the  simple 
personal  claim  which  the  solitary  figure  of  Jesus  Christ  makes 
upon  us,  by  its  unalterable  moral  dignity  and  beauty,  its 
typical  humanity,  its  unearthly  authority,  is  the  strongest 
that  can  be  made :  none  the  less  may  that  claim  be  confirmed 
and  reinforced  if  we  see  the  same  figure  as  it  were  upon  an 
historical  throne ;  if  it  should  become  clear  that  what  went 
before  (and  what  followed  after)  does,  in  any  way,  pay  homage 
to  Him ;  if  the  manner  of  His  appearing  in  place  and  time 
be  calculated  to  heighten  the  impression  which  the  fact  of  it 

And  in  the  second  place,  it  follows  that  to  start  in  any 
historical  treatment  of  the  subject  of  this  paper  from  the 
central  twofold  assertion  as  to  Christ,  made  by  S.  John  in  the 
phrase  '  The  Word  was  made  flesh,'  is  to  obtain  at  once  the 
right  clue  to  the  lines  which  it  should  follow. 

(1)  To  do  so  is  not  to  beg  the  question  or  to  fetter  the  en- 
quiry, but  only  to  define  what  kind  of  evidence,  if  any,  the 
study   of  Christ's   relation  to   foregoing   history  can   yield. 
We  see  that  it  must  be  such  as  works  in  us  the  conviction 
that  He  both  does,  and  does  not,  occur  '  naturally '  at  the  time 
and  place  when  He  appeared ;  that  history  leads  up  to  Him 
and  prepares   His  way,  and  yet   that   no   force   of   natural 
antecedents   can   account  for   Him  or  for   His  work.     It  is 
true  that  evidence  for  either  side  of  this  two-sided  impression 
may  have  sufficient  weight  to  determine  faith  especially  with 
individual  minds.     The  contrast  between  Christ  and  all  else  in 
history,  arresting  the  attention  and  suggesting   the  thought 
of  special  Divine  presence,  may  of  itself  be  a  spring  of  faith  : 
or,  upon  the  other  hand,  a  clear  discernment  of  His  natural 
supremacy  in  history  may  lead  a  man  on  to  higher  truth. 
But  the    true   evidence,   as   corresponding  to   the   true   and 
full  claim,  will  be  that  which  suggests  the  conclusion  with 
simultaneous  and  equal  force  from  either  side. 

(2)  If  the  aim   is  not  evidence  but    instruction,  and  we 
desire  simply  to  understand  better  what  is  true  of  our  Lord's 

iv.    Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.         131 

relation  to  history,  it  will  still  advantage  us  greatly  to  start 
from  the  same  point.  We  shall  be  able  to  recognise  freely 
and  without  fear  of  contradiction  or  confusion,  on  the  one 
side,  the  way  in  which  the  lines  of  history,  of  human  ex- 
.perience,  aspiration,  achievement,  character,  need,  lead  up  to 
Christ  and  issue  in  Him :  and  on  the  other,  the  unearthly 
and  peculiar  greatness  of  Him  Who  spake  as  never  man  spake, 
Who  taught  as  one  that  had  authority  and  not  as  the  Scribes, 
Who  was  not  convinced  by  any  of  sin :  Whose  daily  intimacy 
with  a  disciple  issued  in  that  disciple's  confession, '  Thou  art  the 
Christ,  the  Son  of  the  Living  God.'  Such  a  method,  starting 
from  the  Christian  claim,  and  trying  to  trace  out  all  that  it 
involves,  need  not  be  only  for  the  believer,  any  more  than 
the  quest  for  evidence  or  witness  is  for  those  only  who  do  not 
believe.  The  Christian  tests  the  foundations,  and  welcomes 
every  corroboration,  of  his  faith:  while,  in  dwelling  on  the 
character  of  the  work  and  of  its  relations  to  all  else,  the  non- 
believer  may  come  to  find  the  conviction  grow  upon  him  that 
it  was  indeed  '  wrought  of  God.' 

(3)  From  the  same  point,  we  see  at  once  to  what  double 
misunderstanding  or  double  attack  the  Gospel  not  only  may 
but  must  be  liable.  On  the  one  side,  it  may  be  refused  a 
hearing  as  miraculous  ;  it  may  be  understood  as  violating  the 
natural  order  which  it  transcends  ;  it  may  be  regarded  and 
resented  as  an  anomaly  in  history.  On  the  other  side,  a  con- 
sideration of  the  aptness  of  its  occurrence  when  and  where  it 
did  occur,  and  of  its  harmonious  relations  to  many  lines  of 
tendency  will  suggest  the  suspicion  that  it  may  be  after  all 
only  a  result,  though  a  supreme  and  surprising  result,  of  his- 
torical forces.  In  a  word,  it  may  be  accused  at  once  from 
separate,  possibly  from  the  same,  quarters  as  too  supernatural 
and  too  natural  to  be  what  it  claims  to  be.  It  is  all-important 
to  notice  at  the  outset  that  liability  to  this  double  attack  is 
an  inevitable  incident  of  its  true  character  and  of  that  which 
makes  its  glory,  viz.  the  presence  of  true  Godhead  under  truly 
human  conditions. 

But  to  return  to  the  main  point. 

The  importance  and  interest  of  the  subject  of  this  paper 

K  2 

132  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

may  be  inferred,  as  we  have  seen,  directly  from  what  the 
Incarnation  claims  to  be.  But  we  are  not  left  to  infer  it  for 
ourselves.  Nothing  is  clearer  or  more  striking  than  the  place 
which  it  occupied  from  the  outset  in  the  declaration  of  the 
Gospel.  Jesus  Himself  spoke  of  the  Scribes  of  the  kingdom 
as  '  bringing  forth  out  of  their  treasure  things  new  and 
old ' ;  and  laid  it  down  as  a  first  principle  of  His  kingdom 
that  He  was  'not  come  to  destroy,  but  to  fulfil1.'  While 
with  surprising  and  commanding  clearness  He  centres  men 
upon  Himself,  and  distinguishes  Himself  from  all  who  came 
before  Him,  from  '  the  prophets  and  the  law  which  prophesied 
until  John ' ;  He  yet  with  evident  care,  draws  the  new  out 
of  the  old,  and  fits  it  on  to  the  old :  He  delineates  His  own 
mission  as  a  climax  in  a  long  appeal  of  God  to  Israel 2,  and 
the  opposition  to  Him  and  His,  as  a  chapter  of  denouement 
in  the  history  of  an  old  conflict  between  God  and  the  un- 
godly 3.  He  sees  a  '  necessity '  for  the  happening  of  things 
to  fulfil  what  had  been  said  of  old  4.  The  very  pith  of  the 
disciples'  ignorance  is  their  failure  to  see  how  the  features  of 
His  work  and  character  had  been  traced  beforehand,  and 
the  supreme  teaching  which  they  receive  from  Him  is  that 
which  discloses  His  correspondence  to  the  whole  tenor  of  the 
Scriptures  of  the  past 5.  The  teaching  of  the  Apostles,  and  of 
those  who  followed  them,  is  faithful  to  these  lines.  Though 
they  have  to  convince  the  world  of  an  Event  which  works  a 
revolution,  which  is  to  turn  men  from  darkness  to  light: 
though  their  perfect  confidence  in  their  own  truth  makes 
them  see  the  things  that  went  before  as  elements,  '  weak  and 
beggarly  elements  V  and  they  have  moreover  battles  to  fight 
against  these  '  elements '  set  up  again  as  antagonists  :  though 
their  adherence  to  the  Old  Testament  was  an  ever  fruitful 
source  of  difficulty  and  attack  (of  which  Judaizing  and  Gnostic 
controversies  are  the  record),  yet  nevertheless  they  unswerv- 
ingly maintained  the  inspiration  of  the  Old  Testament,  and 
stood  upon  it ;  and  we  distinguish  without  hesitation  as  their 

1  S.  Matt.  xiii.  52  ;  v.  17.  4  S.  Mark  xiv.  49  ;  S.  Luke  xxii.  37. 

2  S.  Matt.  xxi.  33-38.  5  S.  Luke  xxiv.  25,  26,  44. 

3  S.  Matt.  v.  12  ;  xxiii.  30-37.  °  Gal.  iv.  9. 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.         133 

normal,  primary,  characteristic  method  that  of  appeal  to  the 
correspondence  between  their  Gospel  and  every  hope  and 
word  of  Israel's  faith :  the  '  revelation  of  the  mystery  .  .  is 
.  .  by  the  scriptures  of  the  prophets  .  .  made  known  to  all 
nations1.'  The  Hebrews  who  wistfully  look  back  to  their 
temple,  law,  and  ritual,  are  not  taught  a  stern  forgetfulness  of 
what  had  been,  nor  led  vaguely  to  spiritualize  its  meaning, 
but  are  led  to  recognise  in  each  part  of  the  ancient  system 
a  line  which  leads  up  to  Christ.  Finally,  the  disciple  who 
sets  the  true  being  of  his  Master  in  monumental  and  awful 
splendour  as  the  Word  who  '  was  with  God  and  was  God ' 
now  made  manifest  in  the  flesh,  in  the  same  breath  carries  us 
to  the  very  core  and  source  of  all  that  can  be  implied  in 
preparation  by  declaring  the  same  Word  to  have  been  'in 
the  world  '  before,  to  have  been  the  author  of  all  things,  and 
the  unseen  light  of  men  2. 

The  relation  of  Christ  to  history,  or  the  preparation  for 
the  Gospel,  is  then  no  afterthought  of  our  own  or  any  recent 
time.  It  was  Augustine's  saying  that  Christianity  was  as 
old  as  the  world  3  :  and  Tertullian's  (one  of  almost  venturesome 
boldness)  that  in  the  previous  history  Christ  was  schooling 
Himself  for  incarnation 4.  But  it  is  not  difficult  to  see  that 
our  own  time  is  one  which  is  specially  fitted  to  appreciate 
and  handle  this  aspect  of  the  Christian  truth.  Our  cultivation 
of  the  historical  method,  our  historical  realism  or  sense  of  the 
relation  of  persons  or  events  to  historical  setting,  our  recognition 
of  the  part  played  in  forming  structure,  function,  character, 
by  gradual  process,  by  heredity,  by  evolution,  our  developed 
understanding  of  the  links  by  which  the  parts  and  successions 
in  all  nature,  and  not  least  in  what  is  human,  are  bound 
together — all  these  go  to  farm  a  habit  of  mind  which  in  presence 
of  such  a  Kevelation  as  that  of  the  Gospel  will  at  once  busy 
itself,  whether  for  satisfaction,  for  edification,  for  controversy,  or 

1  Rom.    xvi.    26.     So  the  pages  of  *  De  Came  Christi  vi.  Bum  Christum 
the  early  apologists  are  to  our  feeling  qui  jam  tune  et  adloqui .  .  .  human- 
almost  cumbered  by  the  profuseness  um  genus  ediscebat  in  carnis  habitu  : 
of  their  appeal  to  these  Scriptures.  cp.  adv.  Prax.  xvi.  ediscebat  Deus  in 

2  S.  John  i.  i,  14,  9,  10.  terris  cum  hominibus  conversari. 
8  Ep.  cii.  12. 


134  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

for  interpretation,  with  the  relation  of  the  Truth  to  the  world 
into  which  it  came,  to  all  from  amongst  which  it  sprung.  In 
such  a  time  it  is  natural  that  attack  should  try  to  shew  that 
facts  which  historical  criticism  has  done  much  to  secure,  and 
a  Life  which  it  has  become  impossible  to  treat  as  a  myth,  are 
simply  explicable  according  to  the  natural  laws  of  historical 
causation.  It  is  natural  that  Christianity  should  be  explained 
as  the  flower  and  bloom  of  Judaism,  or  as  sprung  from  the 
fusion  of  Greek  and  Jewish  influences  in  a  Galilean  medium. 
Such  explanations  may  not  be  new,  but  •  they  are  urged  with 
new  resources  and  a  more  subtle  ingenuity.  They  have  the 
advantage  of  being  the  sort  of  explanations  which  are  naturally 
most  congenial  to  the  time.  But  out  of  the  very  stress  of 
such  attacks  may  come  a  special  corroboration  of  Christian 
truth.  The  experiment  is  crucial :  it  can  hardly  be  expected 
that  attack  of  this  kind  can  ever  command  greater  skill  and 
resource  than  it  does  at  present.  If  therefore  it  should  be 
proved  to  fail :  if  we  are  able  to  look  men  in  the  face  and  ask 
whether  when  all  allowance  is  made  for  the  subtle  '  che- 
mistries '  of  history  and  for  the  paradoxical  way  in  which 
historical  results  spring  from  what  precedes  them,  it  is  pos- 
sible to  think  that  Jesus  Christ  and  His  religion  were  a  mere 
growth  from  antecedents — then  we  have  here  the  prospect  of 
such  a  confirmation  of  faith  as-  no  age  less  historically  scientific 
could,  in  that  kind,  give  and  receive. 

But  this  negative  result,  great  as  its  value  may  be,  can 
only  be  part  of  what  Christian  science  may  yield  in  this 
sphere  for  the  elucidation  and  support  of  faith.  It  should 
surely  be  able  to  display  with  greater  breadth  and  delicacy 
than  ever  before  that  correspondence  between  the  Revelation 
of  Christ  and  what  went  before  it,  which  was  of  old  indicated 
by  saying  that  Christ  came  in  the  '  fulness  of  the  time.'  It 
should  be  able  to  enhance,  and  not  (as  men  fear)  to  impair, 
the  evidence  of  a  Divine  presence  and  influence,  preparing 
for  that  which  was  to  come,  moulding  the  plastic  material 
of  history  for  a  'far-off  Divine  event.'  It  may  seem  as 
if  this  was  not  so.  It  may  seem,  for  example,  as  if  the 
severity  and  activity  of  historical  and  linguistic  criticism  had 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.         135 

dimmed    the    clearness    of   those    correspondences    between 
prophetic  utterances  spoken  centuries  before  Christ  and  the 
points  in  Him    or   His  work  whereby  they  were   fulfilled, 
which  were  once  so  clear.     It  may  seem,  it  is  evidently  true, 
that   stricter   canons    of   interpretation    forbid   for    us    that 
unbounded   use  of  the   happy  expedient  of  allegory  which 
could  make  everything  in  the  Old  Testament  speak  of  Christ. 
But  even  if  this  were  so  (and  with  regard  to  prophecies  we 
only  partially  grant  it),  is  there  no  countervailing  gain  to 
reckon?     The  hand  "of  God  may  be   seen  in  what  is  mar- 
vellous, startling,  exceptional,  unexplained.     Can  it  not  be 
seen  as  distinctly  and  as  persuasively  in  what  is  orderly, 
steadfast,  intelligible,  and  where  our  reason,  made  in  God's 
likeness,  can  follow  along  in  some  degree  with  the  how  and 
the   why  of  His  working1?      It  was  Christ's  wiU  to    give 
special  signs,  yet  the  curiosity  which  '  sought  after  a  sign ' 
was  not  honoured  by  Christ  like  that  wisdom  which  '  dis- 
cerned the  signs  of  the  times,'  and  so  could  see  the  force  of 
the   special  signs   that  were  given  because  it  saw  them  in 
their    true    moral   and    spiritual   context1.      Have   we   any 
reason  to  hope  that  our  time  may  be  suffered  to  do  (and  even 
be  doing)  something  for  the  interpretation  of  the  witness  of 
history  to  Christ  which  has  not  been  done  before,  and  which 
is  even  an  advance  upon  what  has  been  done  ?    Let  us  con- 
sider for  a  moment  (in  order  to  answer  this  question)  what 
it  is  which  specially  engrosses  the  interest  and  admiration  of 
all  of  us  in  the  different  branches  of  modern  study  and  en- 
quiry.   It  is  the  beauty  of  process.    The  practical  men  among 
us  watch  process  in   its  mechanical  forms  as  contrived   by 
invention.      The    naturalists  and   the   men  of  science    have 
to  an  extraordinary   extent  developed   our  perception   of  it 
in  nature :    they  shew  us  its  range,  and  its  incredible  deli- 
cacy, flexibility,  and  intricacy ;    they  shew  us  its  enormous 
patience  in  the  unceasing  yet  age-long  movements  which  by 
microscopic  or  less  than  microscopic  changes  accumulate  the 
coal,  or  lessen  the  mountain;  they  shew  us  the  wonderful 
power  of  adaptation    by  which  it  accommodates   itself  to 

1  S.  Matt.  xi.  4,  5  ;  xii.  39  !  xvi-  3- 

136  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

surroundings,  and  appropriates  and  transforms  them  to  its 
need.  The  embryologist  developes  its  wonders  as  it  makes 
'the  bones  to  grow  in  the  womb  of  her  that  is  with  child.' 
And  the  historians  in  their  sphere  do  the  like:  it  is  for 
them,  if  not  the  beginning  and  end  of  their  work,  at  least  the 
most  powerful  of  their  methods,  to  shew  the  processes  by 
which  institutions,  customs,  opinions,  rise  and  decline ;  to 
arrange  the  facts  so  as  to  display  on  their  chart  the  steps  of 
growth,  the  stages  of  decay ;  to  shew  influences  blending  to 
form  events,  and  parting  again  to  destroy  or  re-shape  them. 

There  is  beauty  in  all  this,  more  than  we  can,  perhaps, 
altogether  analyse  or  explain.  As  living  beings  we  sym- 
pathise with  the  life  and  movement  of  it  all  (or,  as  in  the  case 
of  intricate  machinery,  with  the  imitation  of  life)  compared 
with  what  stands  stark,  solid,  unchanging ;  as  intelligent 
beings  we  revel  and  delight  in  its  intricacy,  and,  further,  we 
are  gratified  by  the  way  in  which  it  subdues  with  explanation 
what  would  be  anomalous,  abrupt,  motiveless,  in  the  way  of 
change  or  event.  It  gives  us  something  like  the  pleasure 
which  we  take  in  the  beauty  of  the  exquisite  subtle  curves 
and  shaded  surfaces  of  ta  Kaphael  figure  compared  with  the 
rough  outline  of  a  Diirer  woodcut.  But  we  could  not  long 
rest  in  the  admiration  of  mere  process,  whether  delicate  or 
colossal.  There  is  a  rational  element  present  in,  or  con- 
trolling, our  sense  of  beauty,  which  asks  whence  and  whither, 
which  demands  unity  in  detail ;  and  this  finds  altogether  new 
and  delightful  gratification  when  it  can  see  a  relation,  a 
meaning,  a  grouping,  a  symmetry,  of  which  processes  are 
the  ministers  and  instruments. 

It  is,  then,  this  idea  of  beauty  in  process  that  we  bring  with 
us  as  we  approach  to  behold  the  facts  and  method  of  God's 
Redemptive  Work.  It  is  altogether  too  strong  in  us  to  be 
left  behind  as  we  cross  the  threshold  of  this  region ;  it  is  too 
much  connected  with  all  our  thinking  and  experience.  It  is 
very  possible  that  there  may  be  exaggeration  about  it  in  us : 
and  it  is  indispensable  for  us  to  recognise  this,  '  le  defaut  de 
notre  qualiteV  But  all  the  same  we  cannot  disown,  though  we 
must  control,  what  is  so  specially  our  own.  And  if  our  love 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.         137 

of  process  is  prepared  to  be  critical,  it  is  also  prepared  to  be 
gratified:  and  there  is  opened  a  prospect  of  fresh  witness  to 
the  truth  of  the  unchanging  Gospel,  if  it  should  be  found  that 
its  introduction  into  this  world  is  ushered  in  by  all  the  beauty 
of  process,  with  all  the  grandeur  of  slow  unhasting  pre- 
paration, the  surprises  of  gradual  transformation,  the  deli- 
cacies of  combination,  which  process  allows. 

Such  a  sight  is  much  more  than  wonderful,  and  has  in  it, 
if  our  ideas  of  what  is  Divine  are  not  very  narrow,  much 
more  evidence  of  God's  hand  than  any  mere  wonder  can 
have.  But  it  is  as  wonderful  as  anything  can  be.  And  if  we 
still  plead  that  our  sense  of  wonder  stipulates  for  exceptional- 
ness,  it  has  its  own  way  of  satisfying  this — the  way  of 
uniqueness.  For  those  features  which  we  admire  in  process 
are  capable,  if  combined  with  a  certain  degree  of  grandeur, 
completeness,  and  particularity,  of  conveying  to  us  the 
impression  of  a  unique  thing.  We  may  dismiss  as  a  dia- 
lectical refinement  the  objection  which  has  been  made  that, 
as  is  doubtless  true,  'everything  is  unique.'  None  the  less, 
there  is  a  meaning  in  our  ordinary  language  when  it  applies 
the  epithet  '  unique '  to  certain  persons,  classes,  or  things. 
A  man  of  science  may  properly  speak  of  a  certain  uniqueness 
in  the  way  in  which  natural  conditions  are  combined  so  as  to 
make  life  possible :  a  historian  will  certainly  miss  truth  if  he 
does  not  recognise  a  special  uniqueness  in  certain  historical 
epoch-making  moments.  In  proportion  as  we  believe  in 
Mind  ordering  the  things  of  nature  and  history,  such  unique- 
ness will  have  speaking  significance.  And  as  uniqueness  has 
its  degrees,  and  rises  according  to  the  scale,  quantity,  cha- 
racter and  completeness,  of  that  which  goes  to  make  it  up,  so 
its  significance  will  rise  proportionately,  until  at  last,  arriving 
at  uniqueness,  which  seems  to  us  absolute,  we  gain  evidence 
that  there  is  before  us  a  Supreme  Thing,  a  true  centre  to  the 
world.  The  evidence  is  not  indeed  demonstrative,  but  it  is 
in  a  high  degree  corroborative,  and  it  is  the  highest  which 
history  can  offer.  It  is  this  evidence  of  uniqueness  which,  as 
it  seems  to  me,  we  of  the  present  day  may  with  special 
fitness  seek,  and  shall  with  special  welcome  find : 

138  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

(1)  in  the  shaping  of  world-history  towards  the  Christian 


(2)  in  the  special  preparation  of  the  Jewish  nation. 
Within   the   compass   of  a   paper   like   the   present,  it   is 

impossible  to  do  more  than  indicate  the  lines  which,  even 
without  any  high  degree  of  special  education,  a  Christian's 
thought  may  travel  in  tracing  the  Divine  work  of  prepara- 
tion and  witness. 

I.  In  the  first  part  of  our  enquiry  the  distinction  between 
an  outward  and  an  inward  working  suggests  itself  as  con- 
venient, though  necessarily  imperfect :  the  one  consisting  in 
a  moulding  of  the  material  facts  of  history,  such  as  the  geo- 
graphical distribution  of  peoples,  and  the  political  and  social 
order ;  the  other  in  a  like  use  of  the  changes  in  thought, 
feeling,  and  the  like. 

(i)  It  can  never  be  altogether  too  hackneyed  to  dwell  on 
the  strange  value  to  the  world's  history  of  the  two  peninsulas 
which  we  know  as  Greece  and  Italy,  thrust  out  into  that 
Mediterranean  Sea,  which  was  itself  so  remarkable  as  a  centre 
and  '  medium '  of  the  western  world,  binding  its  many  nations 
together.  They  share  with  other  lands  of  the  temperate  zone 
all  its  possibilities  of  hardy  and  vigorous  life :  but,,  besides  this, 
their  sky  and  sea,  their  conveniences  and  difficulties,  had 
a  special  stimulus  to  give  to  their  early  inhabitants.  They 
were  extraordinarily  well  suited  to  be  the  seed-plots  of 
civilization.  And  these  seed-plots  were  aptly  fertilized,  first 
by  the  Phoenicians,  those  carrier-birds  of  antiquity  dropping 
seed  along  the  Mediterranean  coasts :  and  then  by  the  happy 
contact  between  Greece  and  the  other  Greece  opposite,  to 
which  the  island  bridges  of  the  Aegean  linked  it,  where,  on 
the  narrow  strip  of  coast  plain  and  rich  river  valley  between 
the  sea  and  the  high  plateaus  of  Asia  Minor,  the  lonians 
enjoyed,  as  Herodotus  says1,  the  fairest  climate  in  the  world. 
Upon  this  debouched,  with  the  rivers  from  the  interior,  the 
highways  along  which  travelled  westward  the  civilization 
or  the  power  of  the  dimly  known  but  highly  important  early 
Phrygian  monarchy,  or  from  yet  farther  east,  of  the  mighty 

1  Hat.  i.  142. 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.         139 

Assyria.     The  recent  discoveries  of  Prof.  Ramsay  and  others 
re-interpret  and  emphasize  to  us  this  early  connection  between 
the  Asian  lands  and  Greece  in  Europe,  of  which  the  Lion  Gate 
of  Mycenae  is  a  monument.    What  Greece  thus  took  with  her 
left  hand  she  could  pass  across  with  her  right  to  yet  another 
Greece,    '  Great  Greece,'  in  Sicily   and  Southern  Italy.     But 
we  may  easily  fail  to  recognise  how  much  all  this  delicate 
and  tender  growth  depended  on  favourable  circumstance,  and 
we  cannot  too  carefully  mark  how  space  was  made  awhile  for 
it  to  spring.     The  '  hills  stood  about '  both  peninsulas  on  the 
North  to  shelter  them  from  intrusion :  but  this  barrier,  suf- 
ficient for  ordinary  times,  would  hardly  have  resisted  the  heavy 
thrust  of  the  later  pressure  of  population  from  the  East  and 
North-East,  which,  when  it  did  begin,  so  nearly  crushed  Rome, 
and  which,  if  it  had  come  earlier,  might  have  easily  stifled 
Greek  and   Roman   civilization   in  the  cradle.      The  reader 
of  the  Persian  Wars  will  watch  almost  with  awe  within  how 
little  Greece   came  of  what    appeared  alike  to  Asiatic   and 
Greek  a  certain  subjection  to  the  Persian.      A  difference  of 
twenty  years  earlier,  the  chance  of  a  different  temper  in  the 
little  Athenian  people,  the  use  by  Darius  of  the  methods  of 
Xerxes,  would,  humanly  speaking,  have   decided  the  other 
way  the  fate  of  western  civilization.     It  is  easier  again  to 
admire  than  to  explain  the  happy  fortune  which  brought  the 
mountain  kingdom  of  Macedon  to  its  moment  of  aggression 
just  too  late  to  hurt  the  flowering  and  fruitage  of  Greece,  just 
in  time  to  carry  its  seed  broadcast  over  Eastern,  Syrian,  and 
Egyptian  lands.    From  all  the  sequence  of  the  Graeco-Roman 
history  which  follows,  and  in  which  nothing  is  more  important 
to  all  the  purposes  of  Providence  than  the  simple  fact  of  the 
order  of  these  two,  Greek  first,  Roman  second,  we  can  here 
select  only  one  feature  of  capital  importance,  viz.  the  trans- 
formation of  a  world  intensely  localized  and  sub-div.ided  into 
one  as  singularly  united  and  homogeneous.    Follow  S.  Paul  and 
see  his  circuits,  watch  him  claiming  the  safeguard  of  the  same 
Roman  citizenship  in  the  Macedonian  town  and  in  the  capital 
of  Palestine,  laying  hold  at  Caesarea  on  the  horns  of  a  central 
tribunal  of  justice  at  Rome,  borne  thither  by  the  sails  of  the 

140  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

carrying  trade  in  the '  ship  of  Alexandria,'  meditating  a  journey 
into  Spain,  numbering  among  his  Roman  converts,  as  seems 
probable,  one  who  had  a  direct  connection  with  Roman 
Britain,  writing  in  the  same  Greek  to  Rome  and  to  the 
highlanders  of  Galatia,  never  crossed  in  his  journeys  by  any 
track  of  war,  never  stopped  by  any  challenge  of  frontier  or 
custom-house:  these  are  so  many  object-lessons  to  shew  what 
the  '  Pax  Romana '  and  the  Roman  unity  of  power  and  organi- 
zation imported  for  the  growth  of  a  world-religion.  This  was 
the  time  when  it  could  be  complained  that  it  was  impossible 
to  flee  from  the  Caesar's  wrath  because  the  Caesar  owned  the 
world.  And  to  make  the  impression  more  distinct,  let  the  eye 
travel  backward  a  little,  or  forward  a  little :  backward  into 
the  second  or  even  the  first  century  B.C.,  when  this  same  Medi- 
terranean world  was  still  in  greater  part  an  unconsolidated 
chaos  of  political  de'bris ;  when  the  tumult  of  the  Macedonian 
and  Syrian  wars  of  Rome  and  then  of  her  desolating  civil 
strife  filled  the  world  with  noise  and  occupied  its  thought 
and  destroyed  its  peace  ;  when  the  sea  was  impassable  because 
of  pirates,  and  when  the  West  was  still  in  great  part  un- 
subdued and  formidable  barbarism :  or  forward,  across  the 
space  during  which  the  Gospel  had  spread  its  influence  and 
struck  its  roots  and  won  its  power,  to  the  time  so  soon 
following,  when  the  lands  that  had  known  no  war  were  again 
traversed  by  the  armies  of  rival  emperors,  and  the  barbarians 
began  to  dismember  the  West,  and  the  gloom  of  a  great  fear 
preoccupied  men's  hearts.  To  say  nothing  of  the  middle 
ages,  what  unity  of  the  Mediterranean  world  and  the  lands 
affiliated  to  it  has  the  whole  of  later  history  got  to  shew,  that 
can  compare  for  a  moment  with  the  unity  of  the  early 
Empire,  focussed  in  its  cosmopolitan  capital  Rome  1 

And  in  this  there  is  much  more  than  a  mechanical  pro- 
vision for  the  progress  of  a  world-religion.  It  is  not  merely 
that  its  heralds  find  a  complete  facility  of  communication, 
peaceful  conditions,  and  a  '  lingua  franca  '  ready  for  their  use. 
We  must  realize  how  the  unity  had  been  obtained.  It  had 
been  by  pulverizing  separate  nationalities,  separate  patriotisms, 
separate  religions ;  by  destroying  or  leaving  only  in  a  muni- 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.         141 

cipal  form  the  centres  round  which  human  energy  and  loyalty 
had  been  wont  to  gather.  Thus  the  world  had  been  turned 
into  that  '  cold  and  icy  plain  '  of  which  M.  Renan  speaks. 
And  it  is  not  too  much  to  say  that  this  process  had  destroyed 
just  so  many  barriers  to  the  entrance  of  Christianity.  We 
have  only  to  realize  what  had  been  previously  the  universal 
character  of  the  worships  of  the  western  world,  viz.  that  they 
had  been  local,  the  common  and  exclusive  possession  of  the 
citizens  of  one  place  or  state,  and  inextricably  bound  up 
with  the  being  and  welfare  of  that  particular  community. 
Such  religions,  and  people  bred  under  them,  would  have  met 
Christianity,  not  so  much  with  criticism  of  its  doctrines,  or 
with  rival  doctrines  of  their  own,  as  with  ideas  and  a  frame 
of  mind  so  alien  to  a  spiritual  and  universal  religion  like 
the  Gospel  that  it  would  have  found  no  foothold  in  attacking 
them.  Conceive  the  force  with  which  what  even  in  the 
second  century  after  Christ  the  heathen  objector  urged,  '  it  is 
not  creditable  to  alter  the  customs  handed  down  to  us  from 
our  fathers 1,'  would  have  come  from  the  Roman  of  the  earlier 
Republic,  or  the  Greek  of  the  times  of  freedom.  Nay,  we  may 
without  rashness  hazard  the  conjecture  that  had  it  been  pos- 
sible for  the  Gospel  to  overcome  these  conditions  it  would  have 
done  so  prematurely  and  with  loss  :  that  they  were  in  their 
time  and  place  ministers  of  good :  that  they  were  bound  up 
with  that  vigorous  energy  of  development  within  one  small 
limited  horizon,  by  which,  as  we  shall  see,  the  preparation 
of  the  heathen  world  was  carried  out. 

It  was  the  negative  aid  of  the  Empire  to  Christianity  that 
it  destroyed  these.  But  it  lent  more  positive  help.  It  created 
a  demand,  or  at  least  a  need,  for  a  universal  religion.  Of  this 
there  are  several  proofs.  The  religious  phenomena  of  the 
time  other  than  Christianity  supply  the  first.  There  is  an 
attempt,  or  more  than  one  attempt,  to  provide  such  a  religion. 
There  is  the  attempt  by  way  of  comprehension,  of  making 
all  the  gods  live  together  as  joint  inhabitants  of  a  common 
Pantheon.  There  is  the  attempt  by  way  of  construction,  in  the 
worship  of  the  one  Power  about  which  there  was  no  doubt,  the 
1  Clem.  Alex.  Protrept.  ex.  init. 

142  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

Goddess  Eome,  and  of  the  Emperor  her  deified  representative. 
There  is  also,  we  may  perhaps  add,  the  attempt  by  way  of 
philosophic  thought.  For  philosophy  at  this  time  had  a 
religious  bent  which  increased  not  improbably  as  the  circula- 
tion of  Christian  thought  stole  unknown  through  the  veins 
of  society:  and  it  felt  after  the  One  Being  whose  Personal 
existence  and  Fatherhood  it  waveringly  discerned,  but  whom 
yet  it  could  not  steadily  distinguish  from  a  personified  order 
of  nature.  Such  a  religious  idea,  needed  to  complete  Cicero's 
commonwealth  of  the  Universe  comprehending  Gods  and  men, 
may  be  seen  with  increasing  clearness  in  Seneca,  Epictetus, 
and  Aurelius.  The  need  of  a  universal  religion  is  thus 
directly  shewn.  But  other  proofs,  as  clear  though  less  direct, 
are  to  be  drawn  from  the  other  departments  of  human  thought. 
For  literature  was  already  a  unity,  into  which  whatever  the 
genius  of  provincials  like  Lucan,  or  Seneca,  or  Pliny  contri- 
buted was  gathered  up.  And  it  is  a  commonplace  that  the 
greatest  constructive  result  of  the  imperial  period  was  the 
creation  or  development  of  a  universal  code  of  law. 

(2)  In  what  has  been  last  said  we  have  almost  crossed  the 
imaginary  line  by  which  we  were  to  divide  the  preparation 
in  external  fact  from  that  which  was  more  inward  in  thought 
and  feeling.  To  deal  with  this  latter  may  seem  almost 
ridiculous :  since  to  do  so  must  involve  the  presumption  of 
summarizing  in  a  few  lines  the  drift  of  the  literature  and 
thought  of  antiquity.  Yet,  in  the  briefest  words,  it  may  be 
possible  to  suggest  a  few  true  outlines  of  the  shape  which  an 
account  of  that  drift  should  take.  It  would  certainly  repre- 
sent the  mental  history  of  the  classical  world  in  its  relation 
to  the  Gospel  as  supplying  a  double  preparation,  positive  and 
negative :  a  positive  preparation  by  evolving  ideas  which  the 
Gospel  could  work  into  its  own  fabric,  or  a  frame  of  mind 
which  would  make  for  it  a  suitable  '  nidus '  and  a  receptive 
soil:  a  negative  preparation  by  the  breakdown  of  human 
nature's  own  constructive  and  speculative  efforts,  and  by  the 
room  thus  left  for  a  revelation  which  would  unite  the  broken 
and  useless  fragments  of  thought  and  minister  to  unsatisfied 
needs.  And  of  these  the  negative  seems  the  more  predomi- 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.         143 

nant  and  the  more  direct.     In  so  saying  we  are  guided  by 
what  appears  to  be  the  teaching  of  the  New  Testament.     It 
seems  as  though  the  main  upshot  of  that  time  was,  and  was 
meant  to  be,  the  failure  of  the  world  '  by  wisdom ' l  to  find  the 
truth:  though  when  this  has  been  recognised  and  acknow- 
ledged, then  the  world  might  find,  as  we  may  find,  that  all 
the  while  in  this  unattaining  and  abortive  thought  God  had 
put  impulses  from  His  own  wisdom,  and  prepared  materials 
for  His  own  coming  work.     It  is  the  typical  history  of  the 
'  natural  man  ' :  and  though  what  is  primary  and  indispensable 
is  that  the  natural  man  should  learn  the  poverty  and  misery 
of  his   own  state,  and   be  ready  to    die  to  his  life,  yet  the 
natural    man  too   is    the    true    though    perverted  work    of 
God,  and  in   his  thoughts  and   instincts,  his  emotions  and 
speculations,  must  be  found  a  witness  to  which  the  revela- 
tion will  appeal,  and  a  response  which  it  will  elicit.     It  is 
impossible  not  to  follow  the  track  so  suggested,  and  to  see 
in  the  early  stages  of  Greek  life,  the  lusty  youth-time  of  the 
natural   man.     Casting   off   the    bright    and    truthful   sim- 
plicity, and  the  happy  story -telling  of  its  childhood,  it  begins 
(we  speak  of  the  times  between  600  and  450  B.C.)  to  try  its 
young  energies  upon  the  problems  of  the  world :  it  suggests  its 
explanations,  quick,  ingenious,  one-sided,  changing,  of  how  the 
world  came  to  be :  '  it  came  from  water,'  '  from  air,'  '  from 
fire : '  'it  came  from  the  dance  of  atoms  : '  '  nay,  but  these  give 
us  only  the  how,  it  came  from  something  more  than  these,  it 
came  from  mind : '  '  are  you  sure  what  it  is  ?    fix  upon  any 
part  of  it  and  you  will  find  it  slip  through  your  fingers,  for 
all  is  change,  and  change  is  all  we  know;'  these  are  the  quick 
premieres  ebauches  of  its  young  speculation.      But  already 
there  is  a  sound  of  alarm  in  the  air.     That  challenge  asking 
whether  there  was  an  '  it '  at  all ;  and  if  so,  whether  by  parity 
of  cavil  there  was  any  solidity  in  the  other  assumptions  of 
thought,  in  'good'  and  'evil,'  '  truth'  and  'falsehood,'  'beauty' 
and  '  ugliness ; '  or  at  least  anything  beyond  such  mere  rela- 
tive and  convenient  meaning  as  there  is  in  '  big  '  or  '  little,' 
'  thick '  or  '  thin,'  '  wet '  or  '  dry  ' — this  sobers  men.     Thought 

1  i  Cor.  i.  21. 

144  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

feels  its  own  dangers.  It  must  try  its  hand  more  seriously 
at  some  true  constructive  work :  and  so  there  follows  that 
great  period  in  which,  steadied  by  the  strong  grip  and  sharp 
discipline  of  the  great  prophet  of  natural  conscience  and 
natural  instinct,  Socrates,  it  addresses  itself  to  its  great  task 
of  wringing  her  secret  from  the  world.  It  is  done  and  neces- 
sarily done  in  the  sheer  self-reliance  of  the  unaided  mind,  yet 
of  the  mind  in  the  fullest  sense  of  the  word ;  not  the  mere 
critical  understanding,  but  the  whole  spiritual  and  rational 
energy  of  the  man,  not  disowning  its  dependence  on  a  disci- 
pline of  character  and  a  severe  and  painful  training  of  its  own 
powers.  The  results,  so  splendid  and  yet  so  inadequate,  so 
rich  in  great  intuitions  and  suggestions,  so  patient  and  suc- 
cessful in  much  of  its  detail,  is  preserved  to  us  in  the  work  of 
Plato  and  Aristotle.  Christian  thought  can  never  be  interested 
in  disparaging  that  work:  Christian  thinkers  at  different 
times  have  done  special  honour  to  different  aspects  of  it  : 
and  the  position  of  Aristotle  in  the  works  of  Dante,  and  of 
Aquinas,  and  in  the  frescoes  of  the  Spanish  chapel,  is  the  sign 
of  the  ungrudged  admiration  given  by  what  in  our  modern 
way  we  might  regard  as  among  the  least  appreciative  and 
discriminating  of  Christian  times.  But  the  most  ungrudging 
admiration  cannot  prevent  our  seeing,  and  history  compels 
us  to  see,  what  it  lacked.  It  lacked  a  foundation  upon  a 
Eock.  It  had  the  certainty,  if  certainty  at  all,  which  belongs 
to  profound  intuitions  and  to  a  wide  interpretation  of  experi- 
ence, not  that  which  makes  a  definite,  settled,  and  above  all 
communicable  conviction.  All  the  while  narrower,  pettier, 
more  captious,  or  more  ordinary  minds  had  been  asking  '  what 
is  truth '  in  a  very  different  spirit ;  had  displayed  the  inde- 
pendence and  captiousness  of  youth,  and  not  its  hopeful  and 
trustful  creativeness.  And  more  and  more  this  lower  element 
began  to  prevail.  When  it  became  a  question  not  of  projecting 
systems  which  should  impress  and  absorb  the  higher  minds 
of  a  few  generations,  but  of  providing  that  which  should 
pass  on  with  men,  the  common  run  of  men,  into  the  advancing 
years,  and  stand  the  strain  of  the  world's  middle  life ;  then  it 
was  found  that  the  human  mind  unaided  was  more  powerful 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.      145 

to  destroy  than  to  build  or  to  maintain.  The  dark  horse  of 
Plato's  chariot  pulled  down  his  fellow :  in  the  unaided  human 
understanding  the  critical  faculty  proved  stronger  than  the 
constructive :  without  the  point  of  attachment  in  a  central 
truth  to  which  men's  high  thoughts  could  reach  and  cling,  or 
(to  change  the  figure)  without  a  clearly-disclosed  goal  of  truth 
towards  which  they  could  be  seen  to  tend  and  converge,  they 
could  not  maintain  or  justify  themselves:  'the  carnal  mind' 
was  against  them  and  unworthy  of  them  :  as  regards  any  real 
adoption  of  them  by  mankind  for  fruitful  and  trustworthy 
convictions,  they  passed  away,  according  to  that  law  of  which 
the  modern  poet  speaks : — 

Eternal  hopes  are  man's 

Which  when  they  should  maintain  themselves  aloft 
Want  due  consistence :   like  a  pillar  of  smoke 
That  with  majestic  energy  from  earth 
Rises  but,  having  reached  the  thinner  air. 
Melts  and  dissolves,  and  is  no  longer  seen l. 

We  shall  not  be  wrong  in  saying  that  the  course  of  philo- 
sophy after  Aristotle  displayed  increasingly  the  collapse  of 
the  experiment  of  speculative  self-reliance.  Scepticism  was 
not  confined  to  the  '  Sceptics,'  nor  even  shared  only  by  the 
Epicureans :  it  deeply  underlay  the  philosophy  of  the  Stoics. 
But  as  with  advancing  life  men  baffled  in  their  early  san- 
guineness  fall  back  (both  for  good  and  evil)  and  content  them- 
selves with  the  energies  of  practical  life,  so  the  mind  of  that 
day  baffled  and  despairing  of  the  speculative  problem  did  not 
abandon,  but  transferred,  its  self-reliance  ;  men  threw  them- 
selves with  a  sort  of  defiance  into  the  organization  of  conduct ; 
'imperturbableness'  and  '  self-sufficiency '  became  watchwords 
of  their  thought 2.  This  is  the  character  of  Stoicism :  this 
explains  its  vogue  and  wide  indirect  influence  ;  its  curious 
likeness  to  its  apparently  quite  alien  contemporary,  Epicurean- 
ism, in  a  common  cultivation  of  self-sufficingness  ;  and,  finally, 
its  ready  alliance  with  the  natural  tendencies  of  Roman 
character  when  it  passed  from  Greece  to  Rome. 

Here  again  was  a  great  experiment,  which  had  no  mean 
success.  We  admire  almost  with  awe  its  unsparing  thorough- 

1  Wordsworth,  Excursion  iv.  2  'Arapa^ia  (Epicurean) :  avrap/cfia. 


146  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

ness,  its  austerity,  its  unworldliness,  its  courage,  its  endurance. 
In  its  later  forms,  when  some  power  has  touched  it  with 
gentleness,  we  yield  it  even  a  warmer  and  tenderer  admira- 
tion. Only  what  we  cannot  do  is  to  disguise  its  failure  as  a 
great  spiritual  experiment.  We  cannot  forget  how  it  left  the 
mass  of  men  untouched,  how  it  concentrated  strength  by  what 
it  neglected  of  human  sympathy  and  effort,  how  it  revealed 
a  disease  and  palsy  of  human  nature  which  it  could  not 
cure :  how  at  its  heart  it  had  no  certainty  of  conviction  to 
give  peace  and  to  resist  the  forces  of  decay.  Humanity  will 
never,  perhaps,  wind  itself  higher.  But  it  was  a  height  on 
which  human  strength  is  insufficient  to  stand.  There  lacked 
a  sure  word  of  truth:  the  joy  and  fruitfulness  of  an  in- 
spiration: a  grace  which  could  minister  to  the  weakness,  as 
well  as  summon  the  forces,  of  human  nature.  We  cannot 
be  blind  to  its  failure  unless  we  share  it :  unless,  that  is,  we 
are  trying  to  satisfy  ourselves  by  some  philosophy  of  life  which 
misses  its  secrets,  has  no  key  to  many  of  its  problems,  and 
at  heart  despairs  of  its  solution.  The  experiment  of  moral 
self-reliance,  then,  failed  in  its  turn. 

But  we  spoke  of  a  positive  as  well  as  a  negative  upshot  to 
all  this  Gentile  history :  a  positive  contribution  to  the  prepa- 
ration for  Christ.  Where  shall  we  look  for  this  1  Surely 
alongside  of,  and  in  the  same  plane  with,  the  failures.  If  one 
chief  result  of  the  history  of  the  ancient  world  was  to  exhibit 
the  insufficiency  of  man's  efforts  to  find  truth  and  right- 
eousness and  life,  this  must  be  completely  shewn  in  propor- 
tion as  the  efforts  were  noble,  and  therefore  in  proportion  as 
they  realized  (though,  at  the  moment,  only  for  disappointment) 
the  capacities,  the  possibilities,  the  true  desires  and  ideals  of 
man.  If  man  the  race,  like  man  the  individual,  was  finally 
to  find  salvation  by  dying  to  himself,  to  his  own  natural  man, 
he  could  only  do  this  when  it  had  been  adequately  and  mag- 
nificently proved  both  that  he  could  not  save  himself,  and  how 
splendidly  worth  saving  he  was.  He  must  do  his  best,  that  he 
may  despair  of  his  best.  Do  we  not  feel  that  this  is  just  what 
was  worked  out  by  the  histories  of  Greece  and  Rome  ?  They 
are  splendid  experiments  of  human  power.  Diverse  in  their 

iv.    Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       147 

method,  they  combine  in  this  result.  In  Greece  the  experiment 
is  by  way  of  spontaneity,  of  free  lively  development,  con- 
ditioned only  by  its  own  instincts  of  taste  and  beauty.  And 
Rome  represents  the  alternative  plan  of  seeking  strength  by 
discipline,  by  subordination,  by  distrust  of  novelty,  by  sacrifice 
of  individuality  to  the  corporate  life,  and  of  sentiment  and 
opinion  to  the  rule  of  law.  Both  realize  deathless  types  of 
matured  human  life,  of  its  beauty,  its  brilliant  graces,  its  dig- 
nity, its  honour,  its  strength.  Perhaps,  according  to  the  one- 
sidedness  which  limits  so  severely  the  works  and  lives  of  men, 
it  might  have  been  impossible  that  these  possibilities  of  his 
nature  should  have  been  first  realized  with  the  same  solidity 
and  fulness  in  presence  of  those  mighty  truths,  speaking  of 
what  was  above  man,  which  brooded  over  the  history  of  the 
Jews  and  came  forth  into  the  world  with  the  Gospel.  Yet  they 
are  indispensable  to  the  fulness  of  the  Christian  work :  they 
are  the  human  material :  and  that  material  must  be  first-rate 
in  its  kind.  We  owe  it  perhaps  permanently  to  Greece  and 
Rome  that  we  recognise  fully  the  grace  of  God's  original 
workmanship  in  man,  the  validity  of  his  instincts,  his  indi- 
vidual value,  the  sacredness  and  strength  of  all  his  natural 
social  bonds,  the  wisdom  and  power  possessed  by  his  incorpo- 
rated life.  These  are  things  which  we  could  never  have 
realized  if  all  the  world  had  been  brought  up  in  the  barbarous 
societies  of  ancient  Europe  or  under  the  great  despotisms  of 
Egypt  and  Asia.  The  religions  of  Asia  may  perhaps  shew  us 
by  contrast  the  immense  importance  to  a  religion  of  being 
able  to  build  with  sound  and  adequate  materials  on  the 
human  side.  That  Greece  and  Rome  did  contribute  specially 
in  this  way  to  the  work  of  the  true  religion  may  be  shewn 
by  the  way  in  which  men  have  again  and  again  turned  back 
to  these  original  sources  for  fresh  impulses  of  liberty  or 

But  these  things  had  their  day  and  passed.  The  age  of 
Pericles  and  of  Demosthenes,  the  great  days  of  the  Roman 
Republic,  are  only  epochs  in  the  history,  long  past  at  the  era 
of  our  Lord.  We  look  to  see  whether  there  is  any  positive 
preparation  for  Him  and  His  Gospel  in  the  whole  drift  of  that 

L    2 

148  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

history,  and  especially  in  tendencies  which  took  a  developed 
form  closer  to  the  era  of  Christianity 1. 

General  and  popular  impressions  about  the  character  and 
course  of  the  history  will  put  us  on  the  track  of  a  true 
answer.  It  is  impossible  to  look  at  the  history  of  the 
classical  world  without  getting  a  double  impression,  that  it  is 
a  history  of  failure  and  degeneracy,  and  yet  that  it  is  a  history 
of  bettering  and  progress.  If  we  take  the  world  at  the  Chris- 
tian era,  the  times  of  political  brilliancy  and  energy  are  over, 
and  men  are  sinking  into  a  uniformity  of  servility  and  stag- 
nation :  morally  the  ancient  severity  is  lost,  and  the  laws  of 
Augustus  are  feebly  coping  with  the  results  of  a  general  dis- 
soluteness as  to  morality  and  marriage :  economically  society 
is  disfigured  by  a  vast  slave  system,  by  the  disappearance  of 
honest  and  thriving  free  labour,  and  by  great  developments  of 
luxury  and  pauperism  :  in  literature,  though  it  is  the  '  golden 
age,'  the  signs  are  not  wanting,  in  artificiality  and  the 
excessive  study  of  form,  of  imminent  rapid  decline  into 
the  later  rhetorical  culture:  in  philosophy  speculation  had 
run  itself  out  into  scepticism  and  self-destruction:  and  in 
religion  a  disbelief  in  the  ancient  gods  and  a  doubt  of  all 
Divine  providence  is  matter  of  open  profession.  And  yet  there 
is  a  bettering.  The  laws  of  the  Empire  become  a  model  of 
humanity,  equitableness,  and  simplicity.  Seneca  and  Epictetus 
rise  to  thoughts  of  moral  purity  and  sublimity  and  delicacy 
which  at  times  seem  hardly  unworthy  of  the  New  Testament : 
and  their  humane  and  comprehensive  ideas  have  cast  off  the 
limitations  which  the  narrow  life  of  Greek  cities  set  to  those 
of  their  greater  predecessors. 

Here  then  is  a  great  clearing  of  the  stage,  and  a  great  pre- 
disposing of  thought  and  sentiment,  for  a  religion  which  pro- 
claimed a  good  tidings  for  all  men  without  distinction  of  '  Jew 
or  Greek.  Barbarian  and  Scythian,  bond  or  free ' ;  for  a  religion 

1  The  words  '  era  of  Christianity '  world  through  the  first  and  even  the 

are  used  intentionally  rather  than  the  second  century  of  the  era  to  receive 

more  precise  '  era  of  Christ,'  because  the  Gospel  may  be  fairly  included  as 

anything  which   (without   being  in-  preparation    for    the    revelation    of 

fluenced  unless  in  the  most  impalpable  Christ, 
way    by   Christianity)   prepared   the 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       149 

of  compassion ;  for  a  religion  wholly  spiritual  and  unpolitical. 
There  are  traces  distinct  and  widespread  of  special  tendencies 
to  such  a  religion,  and  they  are  connected  with  the  best  side  of 
the  life  of  the  time.  The  enormous  diffusion  of  the  '  collegia  ' 
or  clubs,  in  which  the  members  were  drawn  together  without 
distinction  of  rank,  or  even  of  free  and  slave,  in  a  partly 
religious  bond,  shews  the  instinct  of  the  time  feeling  for  a 
religion  of  brotherhood.  There  is  a  delicacy  of  family  life  as 
seen  in  Plutarch,  in  Pliny,  in  Fronto,  which  shews  readiness 
for  a  religion  such  as  should  regenerate  the  simple  instincts  and 
relations  of  humanity.  In  the  position  and  function  of  the 
philosophers  (who  sometimes  half-remind  one  of  mendicant 
friars 1,  sometimes  of  the  confessor  or  chaplain  in  families  of 
rank,  in  their  relation  to  education  and  to  the  vicissitudes  of 
later  life)  there  is  implied  a  concentration  of  thought  and 
interest  upon  character  and  upon  the  discipline  of  individual 
life,  a  sensibility  to  spiritual  need,  which  all  indicates  a  ground 
prepared  for  Christian  influence.  And,  finally,  whether  it  be  from 
the  stealing  in  of  Eastern  influences,  or  from  a  reaction  against 
the  cold  scepticism  of  Ciceronian  times,  or  from  a  half-political 
half-genuine  sense  of  the  necessity  of  religion  to  society,  or 
from  a  sort  of  awed  impression  created  by  the  marvellous  for- 
tune of  Rome,  or  from  the  steady  impact  of  the  clear  strong 
deep  religious  faith  of  the  Jews  scattered  everywhere,  and 
everywhere,  as  we  know,  to  an  extraordinary  extent  leavening 
society,  or,  as  time  went  on,  from  a  subtle  influence  of  Chris- 
tianity not  yet  accepted  or  even  consciously  known, — there  was, 
it  is  notorious,  a  return  towards  religion  in  the  mind  of  men. 
The  temples  were  again  thronged :  priests  became  philosophers. 
In  Neo-Platonism  thought  again  looks  upward,  and  the  last 
phase  of  Greek  philosophy  was  in  the  phrase  of  the  dry  and 
dispassionate  Zeller2  'a  philosophy  of  Revelation'  which  sought 
knowledge  partly  in  the  inner  revelation  of  the  Deity  and 
partly  in  religious  tradition.  This  movement  was  indeed  a 
rival  of  Christianity  ;  it  came  to  put  out  some  of  its  strength 
in  conscious  rivalry,  or  it  tried  in  Gnostic  heresies  to  rearrange 

1  Capes,  Age  of  Antonines. 

8  Philosophy  of  the  Greeks:  Eclectics,  p.  20  (tr.  Alleyne). 


1 50  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

Christianity  on  its  own  lines :  but  it  was  the  result  and  wit- 
ness of  a  disposition  of  men's  hearts  which  made  way  for  the 

It  was  not,  then,  merely  true  that  the  failures  of  the  heathen 
world  left  it  empty,  hungering,  distrustful  of  itself  ;  nor  merely 
that  the  world  of  that  particular  epoch  gave  extraordinary 
facilities  of  an  outward  kind  for  the  diffusion  of  a  world- 
relio-ion:  but  also  that  in  some  of  its  most  characteristic 


and  deepest  workings,  in  thoughts  and  dispositions  which 
it  had  purchased  at  a  great  cost  of  ancient  glories  and  liber- 
ties and  of  all  that  was  proud  and  distinctive  in  Greek  and 
Roman  religion,  there  was  that  which  would  make  men  ready 
for  Christianity  and  cause  it  to  be  to  them,  as  it  could  not 
have  been  to  their  ancestors,  intelligible,  possible,  and  con- 

II.  Dr.  "Westcott  has  drawn,  in  a  useful  phrase,  the  in- 
valuable distinction  between  a  tendency  towards,  and  a 
tendency  to  produce,  the  truth  of  Christianity1. 

If  we  have  been  able  to  trace  a  real  shaping  of  the  lines 
inward  and  outward  of  the  world's  order  disposing  it  for  a 
true  religion,  the  impression  which  this  makes  on  us  must 
be  enormously  increased  if  (i)  we  can  see  that  that  religion, 
when  it  comes,  is  most  obviously  a  thing  which  comes  to  the 
Gentile  world,  and  does  not  grow  out  of  it  either  by  blending 
of  tendencies,  or  by  constructive  individual  genius :  and  if 
(2)  we  are  able  to  indicate  another  and  perfectly  distinct 
course  of  shaping  and  preparation  which  at  the  required 
moment  yielded  the  material  and  equipment  for  the  religion 
which  was  to  go  out  upon  the  world. 

of  Die  Rism'/-*  <•/;,,,,>     ?(rd  ed.),  principles  of  general  humanity,  but 

p.  72.    It  is  interesting  to  notice  that  there  was  no  hint  of  a  possibility  of 

according  to  so  dispassionate  an  ob-  an  end  to  slavery.     There  were  some 

server  as  M.  Gaston  Boissier  (La  Be-  signs    of    mutual    interest    between 

ligion  Romaiiie  d' Augusts  aux  Antonins),  classes,  but  no  progress  towards  the 

who  has  done  so  much  to  trace  the  effective  appearance  of  a  true  philan- 

better    tendencies    of    the    Imperial  thropy  such  as  the  Christian.    In  such 

period,   the   evidence  suggests    some  cases,  however,   the   validity   of  the 

such  distinction,  even  as  re:;;in Is  some  distinctions   must  be  debateable  and 

of  the  main  practical  results  of  Chris-  fluctuating.     It  is  absolute  as  regards 

tianity.     For   example,   there   was   a  the  Incarnation, 
tendency   to    ameliorate    slavery    on. 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       151 

That  this  was  so  is  in  a  sense  upon  the  face  of  history. 
The  Christian  Church,  it  has  been  said,  appeared  at  first  as 
a  Jewish  sect.  '  The  salvation '  Christ  declared  was  '  of  the 
Jews.'  He  came  ('  not  to  destroy  but)  to  fulfil '  the  system 
amidst  which  He  arose.  Such  sayings  put  us  upon  the  track 
of  a  special  preparation  for  the  Gospel.  Let  us  follow  it. 
And  (as  the  phrase  is  chosen  to  imply)  we  look  here  for 
something  kindred  indeed  in  many  of  its  methods  to  that 
general  preparation  which  we  have  hitherto  traced,  but  yet 
more  coherent,  positive,  and  concentrated.  For  we  pass  in 
a  sense  at  this  point  (to  use  language  of  the  day),  from  the 
preparation  of  an  environment  suitable  to  the  Gospel,  to  a 
preparation  of  the  organism  itself.  Such  language  is  ob- 
viously open  to  criticisms  and  misconceptions  of  more  kinds 
than  one.  But  it  is  sufficiently  defensible  historically  and 
theologically  to  justify  us  in  gaining  the  clearness  which  it 

I  shall  attempt  to  present  the  signs  of  this  preparation  by 
considering  successively  these  three  points. 

(1)  The   relations   between   Israel   and   the   world  at  the 
Christian  era. 

(2)  The  fitness  of  Israel  to  be  the  seed-plot  of  a  world-religion, 
and  of  the  world-religion  given  by  Christ. 

(3)  The  character  of  the  process  by  which  the  Israel,  so  fitted, 
and  so  placed,  had  come  to  be. 

(i)  Many  a  reader  of  Mommsen's  History  of  Rome  will  have 
been  surprised  by  finding  that  the  ideal  political  construction 
which  the  writer's  knowledge  and  imagination  have  ascribed 
to  Caesar  was  to  consist  of  three  elements — the  Roman,  the 
Hellenic,  and  the  Jewish1.  Yet  striking  as  the  paradox  is, 
it  is  chiefly  in  the  facts  themselves.  Whether  we  look  at 
the  ethnological  character  of  the  Jews  amidst  a  system 
whose  strength  is  from  the  West ;  or  at  their  historical 
position,  as  a  nation  in  some  sense  in  decadence,  with  a 
history  of  independence  and  glories  long  lost ;  or  at  the 
minuteness  of  their  original  seat,  and  its  insignificance  at  that 
time  as  (ordinarily)  a  subordinate  district  under  the  Roman 

1  Bk.  V.  c.  xi.  Tlie  New  Monarchy. 

152  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

province  of  Syria,  it  is  alike  surprising  that  it  should  be 
possible  to  speak  of  them  as  the  third  factor  of  the  Roman 
Empire.  Yet,  in  the  main,  the  same  surprise  is  created  by 
any  acquaintance  with  the  circumstances  of  the  Jewish 
Dispersion,  as  it  may  be  learnt  from  easily  accessible  books, 
such  as  Edersheim's  or  Schiirer's 1.  There  is  first  the  ubiquity 
of  the  race :  testified  alike  by  Josephus,  Strabo,  and  Philo, 
and  by  the  witness  of  inscriptions.  They  are  everywhere, 
and  everywhere  in  force,  throughout  the  Roman  world.  Out- 
side the  Roman  world  their  great  colonies  in  Babylon  and 
Mesopotamia  are  another  headquarters  of  the  race.  They  are 
an  eighth  part  (one  million)  of  the  population  of  Egypt: 
they  yield  10,000  at  the  least  to  one  massacre  in  Antioch. 
To  numbers  and  ubiquity  they  add  privilege  in  the  shape  of 
rights  and  immunities,  begun  by  the  policy  of  the  successors 
of  Alexander,  but  vigorously  taken  up  and  pushed  by  Rome 
as  early  as  139  B.C.,  greatly  developed  by  Caesar  round  whose 
pyre  at  Rome  they  wept,  and  maintained  by  the  almost  con- 
sistent policy  of  the  earlier  Empire :  rights  of  equal  citizen- 
ship in  the  towns  where  they  lived,  and  equal  enjoyment  of 
the  boons  granted  to  citizens :  rights  of  self-government 
and  internal  administration  :  and  rights  or  immunities 
guarding  their  distinctive  customs,  such  as  their  observance 
of  the  Sabbath  or  their  transmission  of  tribute  to  Jerusalem. 
The  opportunities  thus  secured  from  without  were  vigorously 
turned  to  account  by  their  trading  instinct,  their  tenacity, 
their  power  of  living  at  a  low  cost,  and  above  all  by  their 
admirable  freemasonry  among  themselves,  which  bound  Jews 
throughout  the  world  into  a  society  of  self-help,  and  must 
have  greatly  assisted  the  enterprises  which  depend  on 
facility  of  information,  communication,  and  movement.  So 
far  we  merely  get  an  impression  of  their  importance.  But 
there  are  other  points  which,  while  they  greatly  heighten  this 
impression,  add  to  it  that  of  remarkable  peculiarity.  To 
ask  what  was  their  influence  plunges  us  into  a  tumult  of 
paradoxes.  They  had,  for  example,  everywhere  the  double 

1  Edersheim's  Life   and   Times  of  Jesus  the  Messiah  :   Schurer,  History  of  the 
Jewish  People  in  the  time  of  Jesus  Christ. 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       1 5  3 

character  of  citizens  and  strangers,  speaking  the  language  of  the 
countries  where  they  dwelt,  '  being  Antiochenes,'  as  Josephus 
says, '  at  Antioch,  Ephesians  at  Ephesus,'  and  so  forth  :  possess- 
ing and  using  the  rights  and  franchises  of  citizens,  and  yet 
every  one  of  them  counting  the  Holy  Land  his  country  and 
Jerusalem  his  capital :  respecting  the  Sanhedrin  of  Jerusalem 
as  the  supreme  authority  of  the  race  :  sending  up  their  tribute 
annually,  flocking  thither  themselves  in  vast  numbers  to 
keep  the  feasts,  or  again  not  seldom  returning  there  to  die. 
They  possessed  in  fact  the  combined  advantages  of  the 
most  elastic  diffusion,  and  the  strongest  national  con- 
centration. Such  a  position  could  hardly  make  their  rela- 
tions to  their  neighbours  entirely  simple  or  harmonious.  It 
'involved  an  internal  contradiction1.'  It  could  not  but  be 
felt  that  while  enjoying  all  the  advantages  of  citizenship, 
their  hearts  were  really  elsewhere.  From  all  the  religious  and 
social  side  of  the  common  life,  which  in  the  ancient  world 
was  far  less  separable  from  the  political  than  it  is  now,  they 
were  sensibly  aliens.  They  were  visibly  making  the  best  of  two 
inconsistent  positions.  And  accordingly  the  irritation  against 
them  in  the  towns  (we  have  a  glimpse  of  it  in  Acts  xix.  34) 
and  the  ensuing  encroachments  and  riots,  form  as  chronic  a 
feature  of  the  position,  as  does  their  protection  by  the  Empire. 
But  the  causes  of  irritation  went  wider  and  deeper.  It  has 
been  said  that  'the  feelings  cherished  towards  the  Jews 
throughout  the  entire  Graeco-Roman  world  were  not  so  much 
those  of  hatred  as  of  pure  contempt2.'  Their  exterior  was 
doubtless  unlovely :  a  Jewry,  as  M.  Ren  an  reminds  us,  was 
perhaps  not  more  attractive  in  ancient  than  in  modern  times. 
But  what  was  even  more  offensive,  especially  to  that  cosmo- 
politan age,  and  what  struck  it  as  altogether  the  dominant 
characteristic  of  the  Jews,  was  their  stubborn  and  inhuman 
perversity.  They  would  be  unlike  all  the  rest  of  the  world. 
Tacitus  has  even  formulated  this  for  them  as  the  principle 
guiding  their  whole  action,  reduced  to  practice  in  details  which 
were  singularly  well  fitted  to  exhibit  its  offensiveness 3.  His 
picture  should  be  read  by  any  one  who  wishes  to  realize  how 

1  Schiirer,  II.  ii.  273.  2  Sehurer,  II.  ii.  297.  3  Tac.  Hist.  v.  4. 

154  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

cultivated  opinion  thought  of  them :  and,  even  if  evidence 
were  lacking,  we  can  see  that  this  was  just  the  kind  of 
dislike  to  be  shared  by  all  classes,  cultivated  and  un- 
cultivated alike.  Yet  it  is  against  the  background  of  this 
intense  prejudice,  ever  more  scornful  and  irritated  as  it 
was  exasperated  by  the  incidents  of  daily  contact  at  close 
quarters,  that  we  have  to  paint  the  phenomena,  as  striking 
and  as  abundantly  testified,  of  the  vast  and  penetrating  in- 
fluence of  the  Jews  over  their  neighbours.  These  also  lie 
upon  the  surface.  In  very  various  degrees  multitudes  (of 
whom  women  doubtless  formed  a  considerable  majority) 
adopted  the  customs  and  brought  themselves  into  con- 
nection with  the  religion  of  the  Jews.  The  boasts  or  claims 
of  Josephus,  who  refers  any  sceptical  contemporary  to  'his 
own  country  or  his  own  family,'  are  confirmed  by  the  ad- 
missions of  classical  writers,  by  the  indignant  sarcasms  directed 
against  the  converts,  and  by  the  vivid  touches  in  the  Acts  of 
the  Apostles T.  '  Victi  victoribus  leges  dederunt '  is  the  strong 
phrase  of  Seneca,  and  it  was  a  very  persuasive  influence 
which  could  cause  it  to  be  said  that  in  Damascus  '  nearly 
the  whole  female  population  was  devoted  to  Judaism ' :  which 
could  give  S.  Paul's  Jewish  opponents  in  the  towns  of  Greece 
and  Asia  Minor  the  power  at  one  time  of  raising  the  mob,  at 
another  of  working  upon  the  '  chief  and  '  honourable  women,' 
the  ladies  of  the  upper  classes :  or  which  could  bring  '  almost 
the  whole  city '  together  in  a  provincial  town  because  a  new 
teacher  appears  in  the  Jews'  synagogue2.  This  influence  had 
its  results  in  a  considerable  number  of  actual  proselytes  who 
through  circumcision  received  admission,  somewhat  grudg- 
ing indeed  and  guarded,  within  the  Jewish  pale,  but  still 
more  in  a  much  larger  number  of  adherents  (the  '  devout 
persons,'  '  devout  Greeks,'  &c.,  of  the  Acts  3)  attracted  by  the 
doctrines,  and  acquainted  with  the  Scriptures  of  Israel,  who 
formed  a  fringe  of  partly  leavened  Gentile  life  round  every 

We  hardly  need  evidence  to  shew  us  that  to  this  picture  of 

1  Schurer,  II.  ii.  308.  2  Acts  xvii.  5,  xiv.  5,  xiii.  50,  44. 

3  Acts  xiii.  43,  &c. 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       155 

the  influence  of  Jew  over  Gentile,  there  need  to  be  added 
another  which  will  shew  how  the  subtle,  persuasive,  and 
powerful  culture  of  the  Graeco -Roman  world  made  itself  felt 
upon  the  Jews  of  the  Dispersion.  The  contrast  between  the 
Jews  of  Palestine  and  those  of  the  Dispersion,  the  translation  of 
the  Scriptures  into  Greek,  the  rise  of  a  literature  which  in  dif- 
ferent ways  tried  to  recommend  what  was  Jewish  to  the  heathen 
or  to  fuse  what  was  Jewish  with  what  was  Greek,  the  single 
fio-ure  of  Philo  at  Alexandria,  are  all  evidences  of  an  influence, 


which  must  have  told  continually  with  penetrating  power 
on  all  that  was  ablest  and  most  thoughtful  in  the  Jewish 
mind.  It  was  not  the  least  considerable  result  of  this  that 
all  the  great  thoughts  and  beliefs  of  Israel  learned  to  talk 

o  o 

the  language  of  the  civilized  world,  and  so  acquired  before 
the  time  of  Christ  an  adequate  and  congenial  vehicle. 

Such  was  the  position  of  Israel  at  the  Christian  era.  It 
was  one  which  had  been  gradually  brought  about  during  the 
last  three  centuries  E.  c. :  but  it  only  came  to  its  full  growth 
in  the  last  few  decades  (the  Jewish  settlement  in  Rome  may 
date  from  Pompey's  time)  under  favour  of  the  imperial  policy 
and  the  peace  of  the  times :  and  it  was  soon  to  change ;  indeed 
the  fall  of  Jerusalem  A.  D.  70  altered  it  within  and  without. 
Thus  it  stood  complete  during  the  half-century  in  which  the 
work  of  founding  the  Christian  Church  throughout  the 
Empire  was  accomplished,  and  then  passed  away.  We  remark 
upon  it  how  admirable  an  organization  it  offered  for  the 
dissemination  of  a  world-religion,  originated  upon  Jewish 
soil.  The  significance  of  this,  occurring  at  the  time  when 
such  a  religion  actually  appeared,  is  heightened  when  we 
observe  that  the  position  had  continued  long  enough  fully  to 
try  the  experiment  of  what  by  its  own  forces  Judaism  could 
accomplish  for  the  world.  As  S.  James  argued  1  '  Moses  had,' 
now  for  a  long  time,  'in  every  city  them  that  preach  him, 
being  read  in  the  synagogues  every  Sabbath  day ' — and  it 
might  have  so  gone  on  for  ever  without  any  conversion  of  the 
Gentile  world.  That  world  could  never  have  been  drawn 
within  a  system,  which,  however  zealous  to  make  proselytes, 

1  Acts  xv.  2 1 . 

156  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

had  nothing  better  to  offer  to  those  whom  it  made  than  that 
they  might  come  in,  if  they  liked,  and  sit  down  in  the  lowest 
place,  tolerated  rather  than  welcomed,  dependents  rather  than 
members  of  an  intensely  national  community,  leaving  father 
and  mother  and  all  that  they  had,  not  for  a  position  of  spiritual 
freedom,  but  for  a  change  of  earthly  nationality. 

(2)  But  we  trench  upon  the  second  question.  What  was 
the  nation  that  held  this  position  of  vantage?  What  signs 
are  there  about  it  which  suggest  a  special  preparation  for  a 
purposed  result  ? 

It  is  one  answer  to  this  question  to  say  that  this  wonder- 
fully placed  people  had,  alone  among  the  nations,  a  genuine 
faith,  a  genuine  hope,  and  a  genuine  charity.  They  at  least, 
says  Seneca,  when  he  complains  of  their  influence,  '  knew  the 
reasons  of  their  customs.'  There  was  a  raison  d'etre  to  their 
religion.  In  a  world  which  still  kept  up  the  forms  of  wor- 
ship and  respect  for  gods  whose  character  and  existence  could 
not  stand  the  criticism  of  its  own  best  moral  and  religious 


insight,  any  more  than  that  of  its  scepticism ;  or  which  was 
framing  for  itself  thoughts  of  Deity  by  intellectual  abstrac- 
tion ;  or  which  was  betraying  its  real  ignorance  of  the  very 
idea  of  God  by  worshipping  the  two  great  powers  which,  as 
a  matter  of  fact,  it  knew  to  be  mighty,  Nature  and  the 
Roman  Empire,— the  Jew  had  a  faith,  distinct,  colossal,  and 
unfailing,  in  a  Living  God,  Maker  of  heaven  and  earth. 
This  we  may  be  sure  was  the  inner  secret  of  the  true  at- 
traction which  drew  the  hearts  of  such  men  as  Cornelius  the 
centurion  to  the  despised  and  repulsive  Jew.  This  God,  they 
further  believed,  was  their  God  for  ever  and  ever.  '  Let  us 
kneel/  they  said,  '  before  the  Lord  our  Maker,  for  He  is  the 
Lord  our  God.'  And  therefore,  let  them  have  gained  it  how 
they  may,  they  had  an  indomitable  hope,  or  rather,  confidence, 
which  all  unpropitiousness  of  outer  appearances  had  only 
served  to  stimulate,  that  He  would  bring  them  through,  that 
He  had  a  purpose  for  them,  and  that  He  would  bring  it  to  pass  : 
that  the  world  was  no  mechanical  system  of  meaningless 
vicissitudes,  but  an  order,  of  which  indeed  they  little  realized 
the  scope,  moving  under  the  hand  of  a  Ruler  for  a  purpose  of 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       157 

glory  and  beneficence.  That  the  confidence  of  the  extra- 
ordinary destiny  which,  under  this  order,  was  reserved  for 
Israel,  as  well  as  the  present  possession  of  the  Divine  law 
and  covenant,  should  have  produced  an  intense  sense  of 
unity  and  fellowship  was  a  matter  of  course.  The  Roman  is 
obliged  to  recognise  their  mutual  charity,  however  deformed, 
as  he  thinks,  by  their  antipathy  to  all  who  were  not  of  their 
kindred  and  faith. 

But  such  an  answer  to  our  question,  though  it  brings  before 
us  a  sign,  and  a  sign  of  the  very  highest,  that  is  of  the  moral 
and  spiritual,  order,  does  not  perhaps  set  us  at  the  point 
from  which  the  whole  meaning  of  the  position  opens  to  us 
most  naturally.  It  may  do  this  more  effectually  to  ask 
whether  there  was  any  material  in  Judaism  for  a  world- 
religion,  and  for  that  world-religion  which  grew  out  of  it "? 

Perhaps  if  we  performed  the  futile  task  of  trying  to 
imagine  a  world-religion,  we  should,  with  some  generality  of 
consent,  define  as  its  essentials  three  or  four  points  which  it 
is  striking  to  find  were  fundamentals  of  the  religion  of  Israel, 
and  at  that  time  of  no  other.  We  should  require  a  doctrine 
of  God,  lofty,  spiritual,  moral :  a  doctrine  of  man  which  should 
affirm  and  secure  his  spiritual  being  and  his  immortality: 
and  a  doctrine  of  the  relations  between  God  and  man,  which 
should  give  reality  to  prayer  and  to  the  belief  in  providence, 
and  root  man's  sense  of  responsibility  in  the  fact  of  his 
obligation  to  a  righteousness  outside  and  above  himself,  a 
doctrine  in  short  of  judgment.  It  needs  no  words  to  shew  how 
the  religion  of  Israel  in  its  full  development  not  only  taught 
these  truths,  but  gave  them  the  dignity  and  importance  which 
belong  to  the  cornerstones  of  a  religion. 

But  then  along  with  these  that  religion  taught  other  beliefs 
as  clearly  conceived,  which  seemed  to  be  of  the  most  opposite 
character :  just  as  distinctive  and  exclusive  as  the  former 
were  universal.  It  taught  the  obligation  in  every  detail  of  a 
very  stringent  written  law.  and  of  a  ceremonial  and  sacri- 
ficial system,  centred  at  Jerusalem,  and  forming  the  recognised 
communication  between  God  and  man.  It  taught  a  special 
election  of  Israel  and  covenant  of  God  with  Israel,  a  special 

158  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

purpose  and  future  for  Israel.  Nor  was  the  conception  of  the 
participation  by  other  nations  in  the  blessings  of  Messiah's 
rule,  (to  which  we,  reading  for  example  the  prophecies  of 
Isaiah  in  the  light  of  the  sequel,  cannot  but  give  a  dominant 
place,)  more  to  an  Israelite  than  a  striking  incident  in  a  dis- 
tinctively Israelite  glory. 

It  would  seem  then,  combining  these  two  sides,  that 
there  was  in  Israel  the  foundation  on  which  a  religion 
for  the  world  could  be  laid,  but  that  it  could  only  be 
made  available  under  stringent  and,  as  it  might  appear, 
impossible  conditions.  An  attempt  to  make  a  religion 
by  extracting  the  universal  truths  in  Judaism  would  have 
been  simply  to  desert  at  once  the  vantage-ground  which  it 
was  proposed  to  occupy,  because  it  would  have  conflicted 
directly  with  every  Jewish  instinct,  belief,  tradition,  and 
hope.  If  the  thing  was  to  be  done,  it  must  be  done  by  some 
power  and  teaching  which,  while  extricating  into  clearness  all 
that  was  truest  in  the  theology  and  morality  of  Israel,  was 
also  able  to  shew  to  the  judgment  of  plain  men  and  earnest 
seekers,  that  it  constituted  a  true  climax  of  Israel's  history, 
a  true  fulfilment  of  the  promises  and  prophecies  which  Jews 
had  now  made  matters  of  notoriety  everywhere,  a  true  final 
cause  of  all  the  peculiar  and  distinctive  system  of  Israel.  It 
must  be  able  to  take  Israel  to  witness,  and  therefore  it  must 
be  able  to  convince  men  not  only  that  it  had  a  high  theology 
and  a  refined  morality,  but  that  God  had  '  visited  His  people ' : 
and  that  'what  He  had  spoken  unto  the  fathers  He  had  so 
fulfilled.'  It  must  produce  accordingly  not  only  doctrine,  but 
fact.  It  must  carry  on,  what  was  implied  in  the  whole 
discipline  of  Israel,  the  assertion  that  truth  was  not  a  matter 
of  speculation,  but  a  word  from  God ;  or  the  knowledge  of 
a  dealing  of  God  with  man  clothing  itself  with  reality, 
embodying  itself  in  fact,  making  a  home  for  itself  in  history. 
It  is  true  that  the  Judaism  of  the  synagogue  in  its  idolatry  of 
the  law,  had  assumed  the  appearance  of  a  paper  system,  but 
in  that  form  it  had  no  promise  or  power  of  expansion :  and  on 
the  side  where  the  religion  of  Israel  admitted  of  development 
into  some  higher  and  wider  state,  it  was  distinctly  a  religion 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       159 

not  of  theory  or  teaching  only,  but  of  Divine  action  revealing 
itself  in  history. 

It  will  not  escape  any  observer  of  the  beginnings  of  Chris- 
tianity that  it  was  precisely  this  attempt  which  the  Gospel  of 
Jesus  made.  If  we  watch  S.  Paul  speaking  to  his  Gentile 
audiences  at  Lystra  or  Athens,  he  brings  to  bear  upon  the 
instincts  of  his  hearers  the  strong  magnet  of  a  clear  and 
definite  Theism.  But  these  addresses  themselves  implicitly 
contain  another  element :  and  we  must  now  look  to  them  for 
examples  of  the  process,  the  careful  earnest  process,  by  which 
the  Gospel  did  its  rapid  and  yet  most  gradual  work  of  conver- 
sion. Unquestionably,  as  S.  Paul  himself  affirms,  and  as  the 
Acts  and  the  early  apologetic  writers  shew  us,  it  was  done  by 
asserting,  and  making  good  the  assertion  with  careful  proof 
and  reasoning,  that  in  the  historical  appearance  and  character 
of  Jesus  Christ,  in  His  treatment  while  on  earth,  in  His 
resurrection  and  heavenly  exaltation,  was  to  be  found  the 
true,  natural,  and  legitimate  fulfilment  of  that  to  which  the 
Scriptures  in  various  ways,  direct  and  indirect,  pointed,  and 
of  that  which  the  hope  of  Israel,  slowly  fashioned  by  the  Scrip- 
tures under  the  discipline  of  experience,  had  learnt  to  expect. 
This  could  be  pressed  home  most  directly  on  Jews,  but  it  was 
available  also  for  the  large  prepared  class  among  Gentiles, 
to  whom  the  pre-existence  of  these  prophecies  and  anticipa- 
tions was  known  matter  of  fact,  and  to  some  of  whom  the 
Jewish  Scriptures  had  been  a  personal  discipline  :  the  truth 
of  the  Gospel  was  one  '  now  made  manifest  and  by  the  Scrip- 
tures of  the  prophets,  according  to  the  commandment  of  the 
everlasting  God,  made  known  to  all  nations  for  the  obedience 
of  faith.'  The  double  requirement  was  fulfilled,  and  a  religion, 
intrinsically  universal  and  eternal,  was  seen  by  spiritually 
clear-sighted  eyes  to  be  in  a  most  real  and  organic  sense  the 
flower  of  Israel's  stalk. 

(3)  If  it  has  appeared  that  in  the  placing  of  the  nation  at 
the  era,  and  in  its  character  and  belief,  there  was  something 
much  to  be  '  wondered  at,'  and,  more  definitely,  something 
marvellously  suited,  not  indeed  to  generate  such  a  religion 
as  that  of  the  Gospel,  but  to  foster  and  assist  its  growth  when 

160  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

the  seed  of  Divine  fact  should  be  sown  on  the  prepared  soil ; 
then  we  shall  ask,  finally,  whether  there  is  anything  of  like 
striking  significance  in  the  way  in  which  this  state  of  things 
had  conie  about?  Let  us  pass  by  the  causes  by  which  the 
people  of  Israel  obtained  their  external  position.  These,  even 
including  a  thing  so  remarkable  as  the  spontaneous  restoration 
by  an  Oriental  Empire  of  a  deported  people,  are  not  in  them- 
selves different  from  the  ordinary  workings  of  history ;  though 
in  combination  they  may  contribute  to  deepen  the  impression 
of  a  hand  fashioning  out  of  many  elements,  and  in  many 
ways,  a  single  great  result.  But  how  had  the  Jews  come  to  be 
what  they  were  ?  how  had  they  gained  the  religious  treasure 
which  they  possessed,  and  the  tenacity  of  religious  and 
national  life  which  played  guardian  to  it?  The  whole 
course  of  Israel's  history  must,  in  one  sense,  give  the  answer 
to  this  question :  and  there  are  no  controversies  more  difficult 
or  more  unsolved  than  those  which  are  now  raging  round  the 
problem  of  that  course,  its  origin,  stages,  and  order.  But  it 
may  be  possible  to  make  some  reflections  on  it  without 
entangling  ourselves  very  much  in  those  controversies. 

(a)  At  the  outset  it  is  impossible  not  to  be  struck  by  the 
interest  which  the  Jews  themselves  felt  in  the  process  of  their 
history.  That  interest  belongs  to  the  very  centre  of  their  life 
and  thought.  It  is  not  an  offshoot  of  national  vainglory,  for 
(as  has  been  so  often  remarked)  it  resulted  in  a  record  full- 
charged  with  the  incidents  of  national  failure  and  defection: 
it  is  not  the  result  of  a  self-conscious  people  analysing  its  own 
moral  and  other  development,  for  though  the  moral  judgment 
is  indeed  always  at  work  in  the  narratives  and  the  poems, 
it  is  more  occupied  in  drawing  out  the  teaching  of  recurring 
sequences  of  sin  and  punishment  than  in  framing  a  picture  of 
the  whole.  The  result  is  to  lay  a  picture  of  development 
before  us,  but  the  aim  is  to  treasure  and  record  every  detail 
of  God's  dealings  with  the  nation  of  His  choice.  This  is  what 
gives  continuity  and  unity  to  the  whole :  this  is  what  lends  to 
it  its  intense  and  characteristic  uniqueness.  And  when  we 
look  steadily  at  this,  we  perceive  afresh,  what  familiarity 
almost  conceals  from  us,  the  distinctive  quality  of  Israel's 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.      1 6 1 

religion  ;  that  it  is  not  a  system  of  teaching,  nor  a  tradition  of 
worship,  nor  a  personal  discipline,  though  it  may  include  all 
these ;  but  that  it  is  in  itself  a  belief  in  the  working  of  God, 
Who  is  the  God  of  all  the  earth,  but  specially  the  God  of 
Israel,  and  Who  works  indeed  everywhere,  but  in  an  altogether 
special  sense  in  Israel.  In  reflecting  on  their  history  they 
contemplate  the  object  of  their  faith.  Hence  truth  is  to 
them  not  a  philosophic  acquisition,  but  lies  in  the  words 
which  had  come  from  God  faithfully  treasured  and  received: 
it  is  revealed  in  word  and  act :  goodness,  in  man  or  nation,  is 
the  faithful  adherence  to  those  conditions,  under  which  the 
good  purpose  of  God  can  work  itself  out  and  take  effect :  it  is 
a  correspondence  to  a  purpose  of  grace :  and  the  centre  and 
depositary  of  their  hope  is  neither  the  human  race,  nor  any 
association  for  moral  and  religious  effort,  but  an  organism 
raised  by  Him  who  raises  all  the  organisms  of  nature  from  a 
chosen  seed,  and  drawn  onwards  through  the  stages  by  which 
family  passes  into  nation  and  kingdom,  and  then  through 
that  higher  discipline  by  which  the  natural  commonwealth 
changes  into  the  spiritual  community  of  the  faithful '  remnant.' 
If  any  one  will  try  to  realize  the  impression  which  Christianity 
made  upon  the  heathen  world,  he  will  not  fail  to  see  how  the 
new  truth  was  able  to  impress  men  because  it  found  these  con- 
ceptions of  revelation,  grace,  and  an  organic  society  of  God's 
choice  and  shaping,  all  so  strange  and  so  impressive  to  the 
heathen  world,  ingrained  as  the  natural  elements  of  religion 
in  the  men  whom  it  made  its  instruments. 

But  why  did  the  Jews  so  regard  their  history?  For  the 
answer  we  may  revert  to  the  other  question,  What  made  them 
what  they  were  at  the  Christian  era1?  For  they  had  gone 
through  a  crisis  calculated  to  destroy  both  their  existence  and 
their  religion.  It  has  been  in  fashion  with  some  writers  to 
emphasize  the  resemblances,  and  minimize  the  differences, 
between  the  religion  of  Israel  and  that  of  its  neighbours.  In 
view  of  this  it  becomes  important  to  note  the  specific  peril 
of  ancient  religions.  That  peril  was  that  the  close  association 
of  the  nation  with  its  god  caused  the  failure  of  the  one  to 
appear  a  failure  of  the  other,  and  to  endanger  or  destroy  the 


1 62  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

respect  paid  to  him.  The  religion  of  a  subdued  or  ruined 
people  was,  as  we  may  say,  a  demonstrated  failure.  Senna- 
cherib's defiance  of  Hezekiah  urges  this  with  a  conqueror's 
irony1.  The  case  of  the  Ten  Tribes  had,  probably,  given  an 
illustration  of  it  within  the  circle  of  Israel  itself.  And  in 
Judah,  upon  any  shewing,  there  was  enough  of  the  feeling 
that  Jehovah  was  responsible  for  His  people,  of  the  convic- 
tion that  He  would  certainly  protect  His  own,  of  the  confi- 
dence resting  on  prosperity  and  liable  to  be  shaken  by  its 
loss,  to  make  the  downfall  of  the  state,  carrying  with  it  that 
of  the  Temple  and  the  outer  order  of  religion,  an  enormous 
peril  to  the  religion  itself  and  with  it  to  the  very  existence 
of  Israel.  It  is  not  difficult  to  discern  the  agency  by 
which  the  peril  was  averted.  That  agency  was  Prophecy. 
Modern  criticism,  though  it  may  quarrel  with  the  inspiration 
or  predictive  power  of  the  prophets,  has  given  fresh  and 
unbiassed  witness  to  their  importance  as  an  historical  pheno- 
menon. Kuenen2,  for  example,  points  out  how  at  every 
turning-point  in  Israel's  later  history  there  stands  a  man 
who  claims  to  bring  a  word  of  God  to  the  people.  Prof. 
Huxley 3,  in  a  recent  article,  has  told  us  that  '  a  vigorous 
minority  of  Babylonian  Jews,'  that  is,  the  Jews  upon  whom 
the  full  forces  of  prophecy  bore, '  created  the  first  consistent, 
remorseless,  naked  Monotheism,  which,  so  far  as  history  re- 
cords, appeared  in  the  world  .  .  .  and  they  inseparably  united 
therewith  an  ethical  code,  which,  for  its  purity  and  its  efficiency 
as  a  bond  of  social  life,  was,  and  is,  unsurpassed.'  Of  what- 
ever fact  may  underlie  this  description,  the  prophets  are  at 
once  evidence  and  authors. 

Now  prophecy  confronted  the  impending  peril  in  the  name 
of  Jehovah :  on  the  one  side  it  displayed  the  enemy  (whether 
as  by  Isaiah  it  prescribed  a  bound  to  his  advance,  or  as  by 
Jeremiah  announced  the  catastrophe  to  be  wrought  by  him) 
as  himself  utterly  in  Jehovah's  hands,  His  axe  or  saw  for 
discipline  upon  the  trees  of  the  forest;  on  the  other  side  it 
shewed  that  Jehovah's  obligation  to  Israel  was  conditioned  by 

1  Isaiah  xxxvi«  18.  "  Hibbert  Lectures,  1882,  p.  231. 

3  Nineteenth  Century,  April,  1886. 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       163 

His  essential  righteousness ;  that  national  disaster  might  be 
Jehovah's  necessary  vengeance,  and  that  His  purpose  for 
Israel — which  it  re-asserted  with  fullest  emphasis — might  need 
to  be  realized  for  an  Israel  purified  by  such  discipline,  a  shoot 
from  the  stock  of  the  felled  tree,  the  remnant  of  an  '  afflicted 
and  poor  people  V  And  prophecy  was  beforehand  with  all  this  : 
it  was  not  an  afterthought  to  explain  away  a  calamity : 
and  so  it  fashioned  in  Israel  at  least  a  core  of  spiritual  faith, 
to  which  outward  disaster  of  polity  and  religion,  however 
destructive,  was  not  confounding,  and  which  had  stamina 
enough  in  it  to  draw  wholesome  though  bitter  nourishment 
from  the  hard  Captivity  discipline.  This,  when  the  flood 
came,  was  an  ark  for  Israel's  religion,  and,  in  its  religion,  for 
the  national  life,  which  re-organized  itself  under  new  con- 
ditions round  the  nucleus  of  the  religion. 

Thus,  at  the  crisis  and  hinge  of  the  historical  development 
which  issued  in  the  wonderfully  placed  and  constituted  Israel 
of  Christ's  time,  and  which  was  crowned  by  the  New  Religion, 
we  find  this  agency,  which  in  itself  would  arrest  our  wonder. 
The  more  we  look  at  it,  the  more  wonderful  it  is.  Every 
suggestion  of  comparison  with  heathen  oracles,  divination  and 
the  rest,  can  only  bring  out  with  more  vivid  effect  the 
contrast  and  difference  between  it  and  all  such  things.  It 
claims  by  the  mouth  of  men  transparently  earnest  and  honest, 
to  speak  from  God.  It  brings  with  it  the  highest  credentials. 
moral,  spiritual,  historical :  moral,  for  it  spends  what  at  first 
sight  seems  all  its  strength  in  the  intrepid  and  scathing 
rebuke  of  the  evils  immediately  round  it,  especially  in  the 
high  places  of  society,  against  the  lust,  cruelty,  avarice, 
frivolity,  insolence,  foul  worships,  which  it  found  so  rankly 
abundant :  spiritual,  for  it  speaks  the  language  of  an  abso- 
lutely unworldly  faith,  and  accomplishes  a  great  spiritual 
work,  such  as  we  can  hardly  over-estimate,  unless  indeed  with 
Prof.  Huxley  we  distort  its  proportions  so  as  to  prejudice  the 
earlier  religion  from  which  it  sprang  or  the  Christianity  to 
which  it  contributed:  historical,  because  occurring  at  the 
very  crisis  of  Israel's  history  (750-550),  it  gained  credence 

1  Isaiah  x.  15  ;  xi.  i  ;  Zeph.  iii.  12. 
M  2 

164  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

and  authority  from  the  witness  of  events,  and  dealt  with  an 
emergency  of  the  most  perilous  and  bewildering  kind,  as  not 
the  most  skilful  opportunist  could  have  dealt  with  it,  by  a  use, 
as  sublime  as  simple,  of  the  principles  of  righteousness  and 
faith.  If  we  compare  what  the  prophets  did  for  their  con- 
temporaries and  what  they  did  for  the  future  of  Israel  and 
the  world,  and  see  that  this  was  done,  not  by  two  sets  of 
utterances  working  two  different  ways,  but  by  a  single 
blended  strain  of  prophecy,  we  gain  a  double  impression,  of 
which  the  twofold  force  is  astonishing  indeed.  It  is  gained 
without  pressing  their  claim  to  predictive  power,  at  least 
beyond  the  horizons  of  their  own  period.  But  it  is  impos- 
sible for  any  careful  and  candid  reader  of  the  words  of  the 
prophets  to  stop  there,  and  not  to  feel  that  there  is  another 
element  in  them,  not  contained  in  a  passage  here  and  there 
but  for  ever  reappearing,  interwoven  with  the  rest,  and 
evidently  felt  by  the  prophets  themselves  to  be  in  some 
sense  necessary  for  the  vindication  and  completion  of  their 
whole  teaching.  It  is  an  element  of  anticipation  and  fore- 
sight. We  see  that  this  is  so,  and  we  see  in  part  the 
method  of  it.  It  is  bound  up  with,  it  springs  out  of,  all  that 
is  spiritually  and  morally  greatest  in  the  prophets.  Their 
marvellous,  clear-sighted,  steady  certainty  that  the  Lord  who 
sitteth  above  rules  all,  that  He  is  holy,  and  that  unrighteous- 
ness in  man  or  nations  cannot  prevail ;  their  insight  piercing 
through  the  surface  of  history  to  underlying  laws  of 
providential  order ;  the  strange  conviction  or  consciousness, 
felt  throughout  the  nation  but  centring  in  the  prophets,  that 
this  God  had  a  purpose  for  Israel : — these  deep  things,  which, 
however  they  came  and  whatever  we  think  of  them,  make 
Israel's  distinctive  and  peculiar  glory,  were  accompanied  by, 
and  issued  in,  anticipations  of  a  future  which  would  vindicate 
and  respond  to  them.  Just  as  the  belief  in  a  future  life  for 
God's  children  was  not  taught  as  a  set  doctrine  to  the  Jews, 
but  grew  with  the  growth  of  their  knowledge  of  the  Living 
and  Holy  God,  and  of  man's  relation  as  a  spiritual  being  to 
Him,  so  with  the  predictions  of  which  we  speak.  As  it  was 
given  to  the  prophets  to  realize  the  great  spiritual  truths  of 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       165 

present  because  eternal  moment  which  they  taught,  it  was 
given  to  them  also  to  discern  that  these  truths  pointed  to 
a  future  which  should  bring  them  vindication.  The  cloudy 
time  of  trial  and  confusion  would  one  day  come  to  a  close  ; 
the  Sun  whose  rays  they  caught  would  one  day  shine 
out ;  the  partial  and  passing  deliverances  in  which  they 
taught  men  to  see  God's  hand  must  one  day  issue  in 
a  deliverance  of  deeper  moment,  of  lasting  and  adequate 
significance ;  there  would  be  an  unbaring  of  God's  arm,  a 
manifesting  of  His  power  to  decide,  to  justify,  to  condemn, 
and  it  would  be  seen  in  some  final  form  why  and  how  Israel 
was,  in  a  distinctive  sense,  the  people  of  the  God  of  the  whole 
earth ;  that  union  between  God  and  His  people,  of  which  the 
prophets  were  themselves  mediators  and  which  was  so  miser- 
ably imperfect  and  so  constantly  broken,  would  one  day  be 
complete  ;  and,  finally,  even  the  very  instruments  which  He  was 
using  in  the  present,  the  Anointed  King,  the  chosen  Royal  House, 
the  Prophet- Servant  of  God,  the  holy  hill  of  Zion,  were  charged 
with  a  meaning  of  which  the  significance  was  only  in  the 
future  to  become  clear.  Thus,  in  this  free,  deep,  spiritual — 
let  us  say  it  out,  inspired — manner  the  predictions  of  prophecy 
emerge  and  gather  shape.  Thus  among  the  people  which  was 
most  conservative  and  jealous  of  its  own  religious  privilege, 
the  promise  most  deeply  cherished  was  one  in  which  all 
nations  of  the  earth  should  be  blessed,  and  there  is  heard  the 
strange  announcement  of  a  'new  covenant.'  Thus  it  comes 
about  that  the  most  satisfying  and  satisfied  of  all  religions 
becomes  the  one  which,  in  its  deepest  meaning,  in  the  minds 
of  its  most  faithful  followers,  strains  forward  most  completely 
beyond  itself.  Thus,  as  it  has  been  said,  '  Prophecy  takes  off 
its  crown  and  lays  it  at  the  feet  of  One  who  is  to  be.'  Thus 
a  people  who  have  become  intensely  and  inexorably  mono- 
theistic and  to  whom  the  Deity  becomes  more  and  more 
remote  in  awful  majesty  so  that  they  do  not  dare  to  name 
His  Name,  carry  down  with  them  Scriptures  which  discover 
the  strange  vision  of  a  human  King  with  Divine  attributes 
and  strain  towards  some  manifestation  of  God  in  present 
nearness.  Thus  amidst  the  pictures  in  which,  with  every 

1 66  7^/ie  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

varying  detail,  using  the  scenery,  the  personages,  the  nations, 
the  ideas  of  its  own  day,  the  instinct  of  prophetic  anticipa- 
tion finds  expression,  there  emerges,  with  gradually  gathering 
strength,  a  definite  Hope,  and  some  clear  lineaments  of  that 
which  is  to  be. 

For,  be  it  observed,  at  this  point  interpretation,  declaring 
what  the  prophets  seem  to  us  to-day  to  mean,  passes  into  and 
gives  way  to  historical  fact.  The  most  sceptical  cannot  deny 
either  that  the  words  in  which  the  prophets  spoke  of  the 
future,  did  as  a  matter  of  fact  crystallize  into  a  hope,  a  hope 
such  as  has  no  parallel  in  history,  and  of  which  distorted 
rumours  were  able  to  stir  and  interest  the  heathen  world :  or 
that  they  were,  long  before  the  time  of  Jesus,  interpreted  as 
sketching  features,  some  general  and  shadowy,  some  curiously 
distinct  and  particular,  of  Messiah's  work  and  kingdom. 

And  then,  face  to  face  with  this,  stands  another  fact  as 
confessedly  historical.  For,  '  in  the  fulness  of  the  time,'  it  did 
appear  to  men  of  many  kinds  who  had  the  books  in  their  hands, 
men  with  every  reason  for  judging  seriously  and  critically, 
and  in  most  cases  with  the  strongest  prejudice  in  favour  of  an 
adverse  judgment,  that  these  prophecies  were  fulfilled  in  a  King 
and  a  Kingdom  such  as  they  never  dreamt  of  till  they  saw  them. 
It  would  be  a  strange  chapter  in  the  history  of  delusion,  if 
there  were  no  more  to  add.  But  there  is  to  add,  first,  that  the 
King  and  the  Kingdom  whereto,  (in  no  small  part  upon  the 
seeming  perilous  ground  of  this  correspondence  with  prophecy,) 
these  men  gave  their  faith,  have  proved  to  win  such  a  spiritual 
empire  as  they  claimed :  and.  further,  that  men  like  ourselves, 
judging  at  the  cool  distance  of  two  thousand  years,  are  unable 
to  deny  that  in  the  truest  sense  of  '  fulfilment,'  as  it  would  be 
judged  by  a  religious  mind,  Jesus  and  His  Kingdom  do  '  fulfil 
the  prophets,'  fulfil  their  assertion  of  a  unique  religious  destiny 
for  Israel  by  which  the  nations  were  to  profit,  of  a  time  when 
the  righteousness  of  God  should  be  revealed  for  the  dis- 
comfiture of  pride  and  sin  and  for  the  help  of  the  meek,  of 
a  nearer  dwelling  of  God  with  His  people,  of  a  new  covenant, 
and  of  the  lasting  reign  of  a  perfect  Ruler. 

To  some  minds  it  may  weaken,  but  to  others  it  will  cer- 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       167 

tainly  intensify,  the  impression  thus  created,  if  they  are  asked 
to  observe  that  now  and  again  there  occur  in  the  Jewish 
Scriptures  words,  passages,  events,  in  which  with  startling 
distinctness,  independence,  and  minuteness  there  stind  forth 
features  of  what  was  to  be.  It  is  as  if  the  anticipation  which 
fills  the  ai  r  with  glow  focussed  itself  here  and  there  in  spark- 
ling points  of  light  which  form  and  flash  and  fade  away  again. 
We  may  confidently  assert  that  in  the  .case  of  such  passages  as 
the  22nd  and  uoth  Psalms  or  the  9th  and  53rd  Chapters  of 
Isaiah  the  harder  task  is  for  him  who  will  deny,  than  for  him 
who  will  assert,  a  direct  correspondence  between  prediction 
and  fulfilment.  If  they  stood  alone,  general  scientific  con- 
siderations might  make  it  necessary  to  undertake  the  harder 
task.  Standing  out  as  they  do  from  such  a  context  and 
background  as  has  been  here  indicated,  the  interpretation 
which  sees  in  them  the  work  of  a  Divine  providence  shaping 
out  a  '  sign '  for  the  purpose  which  in  each  Christian  age, 
and  especially  in  the  first,  it  has  actually  subserved,  is  the 
interpretation  which  is  truest  to  all  the  facts.  They  are  the 
special  self-betrayal  of  a  power  which  is  at  work  throughout, 
of  which  the  spiritual  ear  hears  the  sound,  though  we  are 
often  unable  distinctly  to  see  the  footprints. 

It  seems  then  impossible,  upon  such  a  view  of  the  phenomena 
of  prophecy  as  has  been  here  roughly  and  insufficiently  indi- 
cated, to  deny  that  whatever  appearance  of  preparation  we 
may  discern  in  the  condition  outward  and  inward  of  the  Jews 
in  the  time  of  Christ,  is  strongly  corroborated  by  a  like  ap- 
pearance of  preparation  in  the  process  by  which  they  had 
become  what  they  were. 

(V)  We  have  selected  out  of  all  the  foregoing  history  the 
epoch  and  the  influence  of  the  prophets  for  several  reasons. 
They  preside  over  the  most  critical  period  of  Israel's  history. 
They  seem  to  bring  to  most  pronounced  expression  the  spirit 
and  character  which  pervades  the  whole  of  that  history.  They 
are  known  to  us  through  their  own  writings :  and  we  are 
therefore  on  ground  where  (comparatively  speaking)  the  pre- 
mises are  uncontroverted.  And  as  it  is  the  fashion  perhaps 
to  discredit  the  argument  of  prophecy — partly,  no  doubt,  on 

1 68  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

account  of  the  technical  form  in  which  it  was  ordinarily  pre- 
sented— it  is   important   to   re-assert   that   in   all   its   main 
strength   that    argument    holds    its    ground,    reinforced  in- 
deed, as  we  think,  by  the  increased  power  to  apprehend  its 
breadth   and   solidity   which   our   more   historically  trained 
modern  minds  should  have  gained.     But  selection  of  what  is 
most  salient  should  imply  no  neglect  of  the  rest ;   and  the 
argument,  or  view  of  the  facts, — which  has  here  for  clearness 
sake  been  abbreviated,  and  mainly  centralized  upon  the  work 
and  implications  of  prophecy, — can  be  deepened  as  the  drift  of 
the  great  lines  of  Israel's  discipline  is  more  deeply  realized. 
Thus,  for  example,  little  or  nothing  has  been  here  said  of  the 
Law.    Yet,  without  foreclosing  any  discussion  as  to  its  sources 
and  development,  we  can  see  that  the  law  of  God  was  a  factor 
in  every  stage  of  Israel's  history,  and  that  in  the  making 
of  the  prepared  Israel  of  Christ's  time,  the  law  in  its  fullest 
and  most   developed  shape  was,  and  had   been   for   ages,   a 
paramount   influence.     No   influence  more  concentrated  and 
potent  can  be  found  in  history.     And  to  see  the  deepest  drift 
of  it  we  have  no  need  to  speculate  on  what  might  have  been, 
or  was  sure  to  be.     Historical  documents  point  us  to  what 
was.     The  Epistles  to  the  Romans  and  the  Galatians,  and  the 
Epistle  to  the  Hebrews,  lay  open  respectively  two  ways  of  its 
working.     On  the  one  side  it  appears  as  a  great  witness  for 
righteousness.     Men  were  schooled  to  live  under  a  sense  of 
peremptory  obligation ;  to  comply  scrupulously,  exactly,  sub- 
missively with  an  unquestioned  authority.     This  sense  and 
temper  is  liable  to  great  abuse :  it  lends  itself  when  abused  to 
a  mechanical  morality,  to  a   morbid  casuistry,   to  the  com- 
placency of  an  external  perfectness.     It  was  so  abused  very 
widely  among  the  Jews.    But  it  is  nevertheless  an  indispensable 
factor  in  a  true  morality,  to  which  it  lends  the  special  power  of 
command:    and  in  Israel  it  conferred  this  power  because  it 
connected  obligation  with  the  will  of  a  righteous  God.     This  is 
expressed  in  the  repeated  sanction  '  I  am  the  Lord  your  God,' 
following  precept  after  precept  of  the  law,  and  in  the  sum- 
mary claim  '  Be  ye  holy,  for  I  am  holy.'     Evidently  here  there 
is  that  which  transcends  all  mechanical  schemes  of  obedience ; 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.  169 

there  is  an  infinite  standard.  As  such  it  pointed  and  im- 
pelled onwards  towards  the  true  religion  in  which  faith  and 
holiness  should  be  entirely  at  one.  As  such  meanwhile  it 
stimulated  and  dismayed  the  deeper  spirits  :  stimulating  them 
by  the  loftiness  of  its  demand,  dismaying  them  by  the  proved 
impossibility  of  that  perfect  compliance  which  alone  was  com- 
pliance at  all.  Thus  the  foundations  were  laid  of  a  temper  at 
once  robust  and  humble,  confident  and  diffident ;  though  they 
were  laid  upon  a  contradiction  which  the  law  had  in  itself 
no  power  to  resolve.  There  was  indeed  (here  we  take  up  the 
guidance  of  the  Epistle  to  the  Hebrews)  one  part  of  the  law 
which  acknowledged  that  contradiction,  which  half  promised 
to  resolve  it,  but  having  no  real  power  to  do  so,  could  only 
shape  and  deepen  the  demand  for  some  solution.  This  was, 
of  course,  the  sacrificial  system.  The  sacrificial  system  opens 
up  quite  other  thoughts  from  those  of  strict  demand  and  strict 
obedience.  It  points  to  quite  another  side  of  religious  and 
moral  development.  Yet  it  starts  from  the  same  truth  of  a 
Holy  God  Who  requires,  and  inasmuch  as  He  is  holy  must 
require,  a  perfect  obedience.  Only  it  acknowledges  the  in- 
evitable fact  of  disobedience.  It  embodies  the  sense  of  need. 
It  appeals  to,  and  as  part  of  the  Divine  law  it  reveals,  a 
quality  in  the  Supreme  Goodness  which  can  go  beyond  com- 
manding and  condemning,  to  forgive  and  reconcile.  It  creates 
in  a  word  the  spirit  of  humility,  and  it  feels,  at  the  least,  after 
a  God  of  love. 

What  a  profound  preparation  there  is  in  this  for  the  life 
which  Christ  blessed  in  the  Beatitudes  and  inaugurated  by 
all  that  He  was  and  did,  and  for  the  truth  of  the  Divine  being 
and  character  which  was  set  forth  in  Him.  Yet  the  law 
only  prepared  for  this,  and  made  the  demand  which  this  met. 
It  made  no  answer  to  its  own  demand.  It  could  not  reconcile 
its  own  severity,  and  its  own  hopes  of  mercy :  its  apparatus 
of  sacrifice  was  in  itself  absolutely  and  obviously  insufficient 
for  any  solution  of  the  contradiction.  It  was  a  marvellous 
discipline  which,  while  it  trained  its  people  so  far,  demanded 
the  more  urgently  something  which  all  its  training  could 
never  give  nor  reach. 


1 70  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

(<?)  The  work  of  prophecy  and  the  work  of  the  law  was 
also  (if  we  can  distinguish  causes  which  were  so  much  affected 
by  one  another)  the  work  of  history.  To  the  work  of  the 
prophets,  indeed,  the  history  of  both  the  past  and  the  succeed- 
ing times  was  essential,  the  former  to  supply  their  work  with 
a  standing  ground,  the  latter  to  engrain  its  teaching  into  the 
life  of  the  nation.  We  look  back,  and  we  ask,  What  gave 
the  prophets  their  advantage,  what  was  the  fulcrum  of  their 
lever  1  Trained  to  observe  the  processes  of  religious  evolution, 
we  must  refuse  to  believe  with  Professor  Huxley  that  a  lofty 
monotheism  and  a  noble  morality  sprang  out  of  the  ground 
among  a  '  minority  of  Babylonian  Jews.'  But  we  shall  be 
prepared  to  find  that  the  rudimentary  stages  differ  much 
from  the  mature.  The  beginnings  of  life,  as  we  know  them, 
are  laid  in  darkness :  they  emerge  crude  and  childish :  the 
physical  and  outward  almost  conceals  the  germ  of  spiritual 
and  rational  being  which  nevertheless  is  the  self,  and  which 
will  increasingly  assert  itself  and  rule.  It  may  be  so  with  that 
organism  which  God  was  to  make  the  shrine  of  His  Incarnation. 
We  may  have  to  learn  that  the  beginnings  of  Israel  are  more 
obscure,  more  elementary,  less  distinctive  from  surrounding 
religions,  than  we  had  supposed.  We  need  not  fear  to  be  as 
bold  as  Amos  in  recognising  that  what  was  in  one  aspect  the 
unique  calling  of  God's  Son  out  of  Egypt 1,  was  in  another  but 
one  among  the  Divinely  ruled  processes  of  history,  such  as 
brought  up  the  Philistines  from  Caphtor  and  the  Syrians  from 
Kir 2.  We  need  not  be  more  afraid  than  Ezekiel  to  say  that 
the  peculiar  people  were  an  offshoot  (if  so  it  should  be)  of 
natural  stocks,  with  the  Amorite  for  father  and  the  Hittite 
for  mother 3.  But  all  this  will  hardly  take  from  us  that 
sense  of  continuous  shaping  of  a  thing  towards  a  Divine 
event  which  has  always  been  among  the  supports  of  faith. 
We  shall  see  that  the  prophetic  appeals  imply  a  past,  and 
that  their  whole  force  lies  in  what  they  assume,  and  only 
recal  to  their  hearers  ;  the  special  possession  of  Israel  by 
Jehovah,  His  selection  of  them  for  His  own,  His  deliverances 

1  Hosea  xi.  i .  2  Amos  ix.  7. 

3  Ezekiel  xvi.  3. 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       171 

of  them  from  Egypt  and  onwards,  giving  the  earnest  of  a 
future  purpose  for  which  they  were  preserved,  and  for  which 
His  definite  promises  were  committed  to  them,  to  the  seed  of 
Abraham,  the  house  of  Israel,  the  line  of  David.  These  things 
the  prophets  imply,  standing  upon  these  they  speak  with  all 
the  force  of  those  who  need  only  bid  the  people  to  realize 
and  to  remember,  or  at  most  to  receive  from  God  some  fresh 
confirmation  and  enlargement  of  their  hopes 1. 

Or  again,  from  the  work  of  the  prophets  we  look  forward, 
and  when  we  have  recovered  from  our  surprise  at  seeing  that 
a  dreary  interval  of  five  centuries  separates  the  Evangelical 
prophecy,  which  seemed  so  ready  for  the  flower  of  the  Gospel, 
from  the  time  of  its  blooming,  we  discern  how  the  processes  of 
that  interval  were  utilized  in  realizing,  ingraining,  diffusing 
the  great  truths  of  prophetic  teaching.  The  return  without 
a  monarchy  and  under  an  ecclesiastical  governor,  and  the 
dispersion  through  many  lands,  necessitated  in  act  that  trans- 
formation of  the  political  into  the  spiritual  polity,  almost  of 
the  nation  into  the  Church,  of  which  Isaiah's  work  was  the 
germ.  The  institution  of  the  synagogues,  which  belongs  to 
this  time  and  in  which  public  worship  was  detached  from  all 
local  associations  and  from  the  ancient  forms  of  material  sacri- 
fice, was,  as  it  were,  the  spiritual  organ  of  the  new  ubiquitous 
cosmopolitan  Jewish  life.  Yet  contemporaneously  the  cen- 
tralizing influences  gained  strength.  The  conservative  work 
of  Ezra  and  of  the  Scribes  and  Rabbis  at  whose  head  he  stands, 
gathered  up  and  preserved  the  treasures  which  gave  a  con- 
sciously spiritual  character  to  Israel's  national  loyalty  ;  and 
guarded  with  the  hedge  of  a  scrupulous  literalism,  what  needed 
some  such  defence  to  secure  it  against  the  perils  implied  in 

1  It  is  interesting  to  note  that,  ac-  own  likeness.  The  prophets  do  not 
cording  to  the  record  preserved  by  imagine  an  earlier  row  of  prophets 
Israel  of  their  own  history,  that  which  like  themselves,  put  in  like  the  por- 
Kuenen  says  of  later  times, — that  '  at  traits  of  the  early  Scottish  kings  at 
each  turning-point  of  the  history  Holyrood,  to  fill  the  blanks  of  history, 
stands  a  man  who  claims  to  bring  a  The  early  figures  are  not  cut  to  pro- 
word  from  God.' — is  exactly  true  of  phetic  pattern  ;  they  have  each  their 
the  older  history  too ;  Abraham.  Moses,  distinct  individuality  of  character  and 
Samuel,  David,  are  all  in  this  sense  office,  only  they  have  a  unity  of  Divine 
prophets.  Yet  there  is  no  appearance  commission  and  service, 
of  a  later  age  forming  a  past  in  its 

172  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

being  carried  wide  over  the  world.  By  the  resistance  in 
Palestine  under  Syrian  rule  to  Hellenizing  insolence,  and  in 
the  Dispersion  to  the  fascinations  and  pleasures  of  Hellenizing 
culture,  and  by  the  great  Maccabean  struggle,  the  nation  was 
identified  with  religious  earnestness  and  zeal  in  a  way  of 
which  we  only  see  the  caricature  and  distortion  in  the  Phari- 
saism which  our  Lord  denounced. 

Thus,  if  we  compare  our  Lord's  time  with  the  great  age  of 
prophecy,  we  see  how  much  has  been  acquired.  Time  has 
been  given  for  the  prophetic  influences  to  work.  There  has 
been  loss,  but  there  has  also  been  gain.  That  conscious,  ex- 
plicit, and  magnificently  uncompromising  Monotheism,  which 
in  the  mouth  of  the  Evangelical  prophet  was  quivering  with 
the  glow  and  passion  of  freshly  inspired  realization,  has  by 
'the  end  of  the  age'  had  time  to  bring  everything  in  the 
sphere  of  religion  under  its  influence.  It  had  discovered  its 
points  of  contact  with  the  highest  aspirations  of  the  Greek 
thought  which  on  intellectual  lines  felt  its  way  towards  God. 
And  it  had  unfolded  its  own  corollaries:  it  had  drawn  along 
with  it  the  great  spiritual  truths  which  cohere  with  the  belief 
in  one  Living  and  True  God  :  and  Israel  in  the  Pharisee  epoch 
had  passed,  we  hardly  know  how,  into  secure  if  not  undisputed 
possession  of  the  belief  in  a  future  life,  in  a  world  of  spirits, 
and  in  the  spiritual  character  of  prayer. 

But  there  was  another  and  more  direct  manner,  in  which 
the  work  of  history  interlaced  with  what  we  have  indicated 
as  the  work  of  the  law.  In  the  formation  of  the  temper  of 
chastened  confidence  which  is  so  characteristic  of  later  Israel, 
a  part  must  evidently  be  given  to  the  discipline  of  national 
experience  saddened  by  departed  glory,  and  with  the  shadows 
thickening  over  it.  Just  as  we  can  see  that  the  populations 
of  the  Empire  were  in  a  sense  more  ready  to  learn  of  Christ 
than  the  young  self-reliant  Greeks  of  Sparta  or  Athens  could 
have  been,  so  we  can  see  in  such  language  as  that  of  the  1 1  gth 
Psalm  or  of  the  9th  chapter  of  Daniel  a  temper  to  which  the 
meek  and  lowly  Christ  would  make  an  appeal  which  might 
have  been  lost  upon  the  rough  times  of  the  judges  or  the 
prosperous  age  of  the  monarchy.  Old  age  has  come  and  with 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       173 

it  the  wisdom  of  a  chastened  spirit.  This  is  not  difficult  to 
see,  and  it  is  important  to  take  it  into  account.  It  means  that 
the  comparatively  normal  discipline  of  life  has  brought  with 
it  (as  doubtless  it  is  meant  to  do  alike  in  personal  and  national 
life)  a  spiritual  gain.  But  it  is  important  to  see  how  much  of 
the  process  and  the  effect  remains  unexplained.  The  chastening 
is  obvious,  but  whence  the  confidence  ? 

It  is  in  some  far  less  normal  cause,  in  something  which 
seems  distinctive  of  Israel,  that  we  have  to  find  the  adequate 
explanation  of  the  whole  result.  We  have  to  ask  (as  Pascal 
so  keenly  felt1)  why  a  nation  records  its  failures  and  mis- 
fortunes as  being  chastisements  of  wilful,  repeated,  and  dis- 
graceful fault,  and  then  jealously  guards  the  record  as  its  most 
cherished  possession.  It  would  be  easy  to  suggest  that  there 
is  in  this  an  egotism  clothing  itself  in  humility :  and  to  point 
out  that  this  egotism  would  explain  the  confidence  which  still 
looked  forward  to  the  future,  which  anticipated  greatness  for 
an  '  afflicted  and  poor  people,'  and  a  blessing  to  all  the  nations 
of  the  earth  from  its  own  history.  Only  this  is  just  to  slur 
the  difficulty,  and  under  the  invidious  word  '  egotism '  to 
disguise  that  wonderful  instinct  of  a  destiny  and  a  mission 
which  is  so  strangely  unlike  egotism,  and  which  allowed,  or 
even  produced,  in  so  profound  a  form  the  self-condemnation 
which  egotism  refuses. 

Doubtless  the  effects  of  these  preparing  forces  were  felt, 
and  their  meanings  discerned,  only  by  a  few.  Not  only  were 
they  '  not  all  Israel  that  were  of  Israel,'  but  the  bulk  of  the 
nation  and  its  representative  and  official  leaders  were  blind. 
They  were  off  the  way,  down  the  false  tracks  of  literalist 
Rabbinism,  or  of  one-sided  Essene  asceticism,  or  of  earthly 
visions  of  a  restored  kingdom,  or  (as  in  Alexandria)  of  a 
philosophized  Judaism.  The  issues  were  the  crucifixion  of 
the  Lord,  and  all  which  Judaism,  without  and  within  the 
Church,  did  to  extinguish  the  Gospel  and  persecute  its  fol- 
lowers in  its  first  age.  It  is  right  to  refer  to  this,  but  there 
are  probably  few  to  whom  it  would  cause  any  difficulty. 
To  the  observer  of  the  world's  history  it  is  a  common  sight 

1  Pensees,  ii.  7  §  2. 

1 74  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

that  the  true  issues  and  the  distinctive  work  of  a  people  is 
worked  out  not  by  the  many  or  by  the  prominent,  but  by 
the  few,  and  often  the  obscure.  To  the  student  of  Jewish 
history  that  which  has  made  Israel  what  it  is  in  world-signi- 
ficance appears  throughout  the  course  of  its  history  as  a  gold 
thread  running  through  a  web  of  very  different  texture.  It  can 
be  no  surprise  that  the  end  should  be  of  a  piece  with  the  rest. 
There,  in  a  climax  of  sharpest  contrast,  we  see  the  antithesis 
which  marks  the  history  throughout.  The  training  issues  in 
a  S.  Mary,  a  Simeon,  in  those  who  '  waited  for  the  consolation 
of  Israel '  on  the  one  side,  and  in  the  '  Scribes  and  Pharisees, 
hypocrites,'  on  the  other.  The  natural  issue  of  Israel's  life  and 
tendencies  is  seen  in  the  cold  and  sterile  impotence  which, 
because  it  is  the  '  corruption  of  the  best,'  is  the  most  irreversible 
spiritual  ruin ;  while  beside  and  amidst  this  there  was 
fashioned  by  a  grace  and  power  above  nature,  though  in  a 
perfectly  natural  way,  the  true  Israel  which  realize  all  that 
'  Israel  according  to  the  flesh '  professed  yet  betrayed,  guarded 
yet  obscured.  And  if  we  have  at  all  rightly  discerned  as  a 
principle  of  Divine  preparation  that  it  should  be  negative  as 
well  as  positive,  and  should  demonstrate  to  the  world  before 
Christ  was  given,  how  little  the  world's  own  wisdom  or  effort 
could  supply  His  place :  we  shall  not  wonder  that  time  was 
thus  given  for  Israel  to  try  out  as  it  were  its  second  experi- 
ment, and  to  shew  that  by  its  selfishness  and  arrogance,  by 
its  '  carnalness,'  it  could  warp  and  distort  its  later  spiritual 
constitution,  even  more  than  its  former  temporal  one,  out  of 
all  likeness  of  what  God  would  have  it  be.  '  The  last  state 
of  the  man  '  was  '  worse  than  the  first1.' 

But  the  observation  of  these  predominant  currents  and 
forms  of  Jewish  life  and  thought  and  religion  has  this  further 
value,  that  it  shews  the  variety,  the  energy,  and  the  unlike- 
ness  to  one  another  of  the  tendencies  present  in  Israel. 
They  emphasize  the  fact  that  the  history  of  Israel  was  in  no 
sense  working  itself  out  towards  the  production  by  its  own 
forces  of  the  true  religion  which  went  forth  from  the  midst  of 

1  S.  Matt,  xii  45.  It  should  be  observed  that  the  words  were  spoken  of  '  this 
wicked  generation.' 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.      175 

it.  They  remind  us  how  intractable  the  problem  of  finding  by 
human  ingenuity  the  solution  which  could  harmonize  in  one 
issue  elements  so  powerful  and  so  alien  from  each  other ; 
which  with  a  perfect  spiritual  liberty  could  combine  an  asser- 
tion of  the  permanent  value  of  the  law ;  which  with  no 
withdrawal  from  and  despair  of  the  world  could  secure  all 
that  was  sought  by  Essene  purity  and  self-denial ;  which,  itself 
utterly  unworldly,  could  satisfy  the  idea  of  a  restored  monarchy 
and  a  glory  for  Israel;  which  while  bringing  no  philosophy 
could  achieve  what  Jewish  philosophizing  had  desired,  in  a 
capture  of  the  world's  reason  by  Jewish  truth. 

III.  In  the  last  words  we  touch  that  with  which  this  essay 
may  perhaps  fitly  end.  If  its  drift  has  been  in  any  sense  true, 
there  stands  before  us,  as  perhaps  the  most  striking  feature  of 
the  whole  situation,  the  co-existence  of  the  two  preparations, 
the  one  general,  indirect,  contributory,  and  consisting  only 
in  an  impressive  convergence  and  centering  of  the  lines  of 
ordinary  historical  sequences  ;  the  other  special,  directly  intro- 
ductory, and  characterized  by  the  presence  of  a  distinctive 
power,  call  it  what  we  may,  a  genius  for  religion,  or  more 
truly  and  adequately  a  special  grace  of  the  Spirit  of  God, 
which  is  new  and  above  ordinary  experience,  even  as  life  is 
when  it  enters  the  rest  of  nature,  and  reason  is  when  it  appears 
in  the  world  of  life.  The  two  preparations  pursue  their  course 
unconscious  of  one  another,  almost  exclusive  of  one  another. 
Greek  wisdom  and  Roman  power  have  no  dream  of  coming 
to  receive  from  the  narrow  national  cult  of  humbled  and 
subject  Israel.  And  Israel,  even  taught  by  the  great  prophets, 
could  hardly  find  a  place  in  her  vision  of  the  future  for  any 
destiny  of  the  nations  of  the  world.  To  this  antagonism,  or 
more  strictly  this  ignoring  of  one  another,  there  are  excep- 
tions, exceptions  of  the  kind  which  emphasize  the  character 
of  the  situation  which  they  hardly  modify.  Two  streams  of 
such  force  and  volume  as  those  of  Jewish  religion  and  classical 
life  or  culture  could  not  touch  and  leave  one  another  altogether 
uninfluenced,  though  the  influence  was  characteristically  dif- 

1 76  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

ferent.  On  the  side  of  the  world  the  spiritual  needs  of  indi- 
viduals caused  numbers,  not  inconsiderable,  to  receive  influences 
which  made  them  ready  to  act  as  seeding  ground  and  ferment  for 
the  Gospel.  On  the  side  of  Israel,  the  strong  sense  of  mission 
and  of  truth  made  the  contact  with  Greek  culture  suggest  the 
ambition  to  use  it  as  a  great  instrument,  to  teach  it  to 
acknowledge  and  witness  to  the  God  of  Israel,  who  was  God 
of  the  whole  earth :  and  the  results,  in  the  Greek  of  the 
Septuagint  and  in  the  Helleno-Judaic  writings  of  Alexandria 
and  elsewhere,  were  invaluable  in  fashioning  language  and 
thought  for  Christ's  service.  But  all  the  more  distinctly, 
in  the  first  case,  does  the  antagonism,  the  gulf  fixed,  the 
mutual  aversion,  the  impossibility  humanly  speaking  of  fusion 
between  Jew  and  Gentile  come  out  before  our  eyes.  And,  in 
the  second  case,  the  unreal  roinancings  of  the  Sibylline  works, 
the  apparently  isolated  work  of  Philo,  and  the  opportunism 
of  a  politician  like  Josephus,  have  all  the  character  of  hybrids, 
and  shew  no  sign  of  the  vital  fusion  by  which  out  of  a  great 
wedlock  a  new  thing  comes  to  be. 

The  two  preparations  stand  apart :  they  go  their  own  way. 
There  is  indeed  in  them  a  strange  parallelism  of  common 
human  experience  and  human  need.  Both  have  tried  their 
experiments,  made  their  ventures,  won  their  successes,  gone 
through  their  disciplines  of  disenchantment  and  failure. 
Both  are  conscious  of  the  dying  of  life  :  in  Israel  there  is  '  no 
prophet  more ' ;  outside  it  philosophy  has  not  the  creative- 
ness  and  energy  of  youth  but  the  quiet  acquiescence  and  mild 
prudence  of  age,  and  life,  public  and  private,  is  without  ade- 
quate scope  or  aim.  In  both  the  '  tendencies  towards  '  a  Gospel 
are  as  far  as  possible  from  making  a  '  tendency  to  produce ' 
one.  In  both  there  is  the  same  desire  for  which  the  Jew  alone 
can  find  conscious  expression :  it  is  '  Quicken  me ! '  Both 
need  life.  Both  have  no  help  in  themselves.  But  in  the 
lines  which  they  follow  and  the  hopes  which  they  frame  there 
is  neither  likeness  nor  compatibility.  '  The  Greeks  seek  after 
wisdom1.'  The  intellect,  and  those  who  are  distinctively 
men  of  the  intellect,  can  hardly  imagine  human  advance 

1  I  Cor.  i.  22. 

iv.     Preparation  in  History  for  Christ.       177 

•otherwise  than  in  terms  of  the  intellect.  Philosophy  conceives 
of  it  as  a  conquest  of  philosophical  result,  or  even  as  an  increase 
of  philosophical  material.  It  is  the  pain  of  an  advanced  and 
critical  time,  like  that  of  which  we  speak,  to  feel  this,  and 
yet  to  feel  that  the  experiments  of  speculation  have  gone  far 
enough  to  shew  that  by  none  of  their  alternative  ways  can 
there  be  any  way  out  to  the  peace  of  certain  truth.  And 
yet  it  seems  that,  without  abdication  of  reason,  there  is  no 
possibility  of  going  any  other  way :  the  Greeks  (and  in  this 
sense  all  the  world  was  Greek)  could  only  look  for  what  they 
wanted  in  the  form  of  a  new  philosophy. 

But  '  the  Jews  require  a  sign.'  Totally  different,  but  equally 
exclusive,  were  the  conditions  under  which  the  Jew  could 
conceive  of  a  new  epoch.  The  dread  of  exhausted  resources 
did  not  haunt  him,  for  he  looked  not  to  human  capacity  but 
to  Divine  gift  and  interposition.  But  he  thought  that  he 
knew  the  form  in  which  such  interposition  would  come ;  it 
was  not  to  be  primarily  a  teaching,  (it  is  the  Samaritan  and 
not  the  Jew  who  is  recorded  as  expecting  in  Messiah  one  who, 
'  when  He  is  come,  will  tell  us  all  things a ');  it  must  appear  in 
action, '  with  observation2,'  with  pomp  and  scenic  display,  with 
signs,  and  signs  which,  in  a  very  visible  and  tangible  sense, 
should  seem  to  be  from  heaven  3,  in  particular  with  circum- 
stances of  triumph  and  conquest,  and  with  an  exaltation  of 
Israel  to  the  glories  of  her  monarchy  many  times  enlarged. 

Such  are  the  demands  ;  the  things  sought  and  needed ;  the 
conditions  prescribed ;  definite,  severally  uncompromising, 
mutually  unlike,  and  even  conflicting.  And  then  from  out  of 
Israel,  without  moral  or  political  earthquake,  without  over- 
whelming display  of  supernatural  force,  nay  even,  to  a  super- 
ficial eye,  with  all  the  appearance  of  weakness  and  failure, 
without  any  rescue  for  Israel,  with  no  attempt  to  present 
itself  in  philosophical  form,  with  none  of  the  strain  and 
elaboration  of  a  conscious  effort  to  combine  many  in  one, 
but  rather  with  a  paradoxical  and  offending  '  simplicity  '  and 

1  S.  John  iv.  25.  in  each  case  following  some  of  our 

1  S.  Luke  xvii.  20.  Lord's  own  signs. 

*  S.  Matt.xii.  38  ;  S.  John  vi.  30,  31, 


1 78  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

'  foolishness  '  of  mere  assertion : — there  conies  forth  a  Thing  in 
which  on  the  one  side  Jews — whom  we  all  recognise  to  be  the 
best  Jews,  Jews  in  the  truest  and  deepest  sense  —  find  the 
whole  spirit  and  meaning,  even  down  to  its  detail,  of  the  life 
and  the  hope  of  Israel  summed  up  and  fulfilled ;  which  left 
them  no  sense  of  disappointment,  but  rather  a  consciousness  of 
having  had  hopes  only  too  narrow  and  low ;  which  gave  them 
the  exulting  sense  of  '  reigning  as  kings,'  with  a    '  King  of 
Israel ' :    while  on  the  other  side  this  same  Thing  was  felt  by 
'  Greeks'  as  a  '  wisdom  '  flooding  their  reasons  with  a  light  of 
truth  and  wisdom  (sophia),  which  met  the  search  of  philosophy 
(philo-sophia) l,  but  also  in  simple  and  wise  alike  drew  forth 
and  ministered  to  needs  which  philosophy  had  but  half  seen 
and  wholly  failed  to  satisfy,  enabling  conscience  to  be  candid 
and  yet  at  peace,  building  up  a  new  cosmopolitan  fellowship, 
and  restoring  to  human  life  dignity  and  value,  not  only  in 
phrase  and  theory,  but  in  truth.    '  There  came  forth  a  Thing,' 
or  rather  there  came  forth  One,  in  Whom  all  this  was  done. 
The  question  rises,  '  Whom  say  we  that  He  is  1 '     And  though 
the  answer  must  be  reached  in  different  ways  by  different 
men,  and   the  witness  to  Him  in  Whom  is  the  sum  of  all, 
must  needs  be  of  many  kinds ;  yet  the  convergence  of  many 
lines  (as  we  have  been  permitted  to  trace  it)  to  One  in  whom 
they  are  all  combined  and  yet  transcended,  to  One  whom  they 
can  usher  in  but  were  powerless  to  produce,  may  be  no  slight 
corroboration  of  the  answer  which  was  accepted,  as  we  have 
to  remember,  by  the  lowly  Jesus  with  significant  solemnity  : 
'  Thou  art  the  Christ,'  the  Fulfiller  of  all  high  and  inspired 
Jewish   hope  ;    '  the  Son  of  the   Living  God  V  His   Son, — 
as  the  Son  of  Man,  in  whom  all  that  is  human  reaches  ful- 
ness ;  and  as  the  Son  of  God,  who  brings  down  to  man  what 
he  has  been  allowed  to  prove  to  himself  that  he  cannot  dis- 
cover or  create. 

1  This  comes  before  us  vividly  in       and   for   this   reason   I  am  a  philo- 
.Tustin  Martyr's  account  of  his  own       sopher.' 
conversion.   Dial.  c.  Tryph.  3  if.  'Thus  a  S.  Matt.  xvi.  16. 




N  2 



I.  THE  last  few  years  have  witnessed  the  gradual  acceptance 
by  Christian  thinkers  of  the  great  scientific  generalization  of 
our  age,  which  is  briefly,  if  somewhat  vaguely,  described  as 
the  Theory  of  Evolution.  History  has  repeated  itself,  and 
another  of  the  '  oppositions  of  science  '  to  theology  has  proved 
upon  inquiry  to  be  no  opposition  at  all.  Such  oppositions 
and  reconciliations  are  older  than  Christianity,  and  are  part 
of  what  is  often  called  the  dialectical  movement ;  the  move- 
ment, that  is  to  say,  by  question  and  answer,  out  of  which  all 
progress  comes.  But  the  result  of  such  a  process  is  some- 
thing more  than  the  mere  repetition  of  a  twice-told  tale.  It 
is  an  advance  in  our  theological  thinking  ;  a  definite  increase 
of  insight ;  a  fresh  and  fuller  appreciation  of  those  '  many 
ways '  in  which  '  God  fulfils  Himself.'  For  great  scientific 
discoveries,  like  the  heliocentric  astronomy,  are  not  merely 
new  facts  to  be  assimilated ;  they  involve  new  ways  of  look- 
ing at  things.  And  this  has  been  pre-eminently  the  case 
with  the  law  of  evolution ;  which,  once  observed,  has  rapidly 
extended  to  every  department  of  thought  and  history,  and 
altered  our  attitude  towards  all  knowledge.  Organisms, 
nations,  languages,  institutions,  customs,  creeds,  have  all 
come  to  be  regarded  in  the  light  of  their  development,  and 
we  feel  that  to  understand  what  a  thing  really  is,  we  must 
examine  how  it  came  to  be.  Evolution  is  in  the  air.  It  is 
the  category  of  the  age ;  a  '  partus  temporis '  ;  a  necessary 
consequence  of  our  wider  field  of  comparison.  We  cannot 
place  ourselves  outside  it,  or  limit  the  scope  of  its  operation. 
And  our  religious  opinions,  like  all  things  else  that  have 

1 82  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

come  down  on  the  current  of  development,  must  justify  their 
existence  by  an  appeal  to  the  past. 

It  is  the  object  of  the  following  pages  to  consider  what 
popular  misconceptions  of  the  central  doctrine  of  our  religion, 
the  Incarnation,  have  been  remedied ;  what  more  or  less  for- 
gotten aspects  of  it  have  been  restored  to  their  due  place ; 
what  new  lights  have  been  thrown  upon  the  fulness  of  its 
meaning,  in  the  course  of  our  discussion  of  the  various  views 


of  evolution. 

In  face  of  the  historical  spirit  of  the  age,  the  study  of  past 
theology  can  never  again  be  regarded  as  merely  a  piece  of 
religious  antiquarianism.  And  there  are  two  classes  of  mind 
to  which  it  should  be  of  especial  service.  Many  an  earnest 
worker  in  the  Christian  cause,  conscious  how  little  the 
refinements  of  philosophy  can  influence  for  good  or  evil  the 
majority  of  men,  and  generously  impatient  of  all  labour  wasted, 
when  the  labourers  are  so  few,  is  apt  to  under-estimate  what 
he  considers  the  less  practical  departments  of  theology ;  for- 
getful that  there  are  souls,  and  those  among  the  noblest,  to 
whom  the  primary  avenue  of  access  is  the  intellect,  and 
who  can  only  be  led  homeward  by  the  illuminative  way. 
The  Christian  of  this  type  may  be  materially  helped 
towards  welcoming  wider  views,  by  being  convinced  that 
what  he  has  been  too  easily  apt  to  regard  as  metaphysical 
subtleties,  or  as  dangerous  innovations,  or  as  questionable 
accommodations  of  the  Gospel  to  the  exigencies  of  passing 
controversy,  are  after  all  an  integral  part  of  the  great  Ca- 
tholic tradition.  On  the  other  hand,  many  plausible  at- 
tacks upon  the  Christian  creed  are  due  to  the  inadequate 
methods  of  its  professed  interpreters.  Fragments  of  doc- 
trine, torn  from  their  context  and  deprived  of  their  due 
proportions,  are  brandished  in  the  eyes  of  men  by  well- 
meaning  but  ignorant  apologists  as  containing  the  sum 
total  of  the  Christian  faith,  with  the  lamentable  consequence 
that  even  earnest  seekers  after  truth,  and  much  more  its 
unearnest  and  merely  factious  adversaries,  mislead  themselves 
and  others  into  thinking  Christianity  discredited,  when  in 
reality  they  have  all  along  been  only  criticising  its  carica- 

v.      The  Incarnation  and  Development.        183 

ture.  Such  men  need  reminding  that  Christianity  is  greater 
than  its  isolated  interpreters  or  misinterpreters  in  any 
age ;  that  in  the  course  of  its  long  history  it  has  accumu- 
lated answers  to  many  an  objection  which  they  in  their 
ignorance  think  new ;  and  that,  in  the  confidence  of  its 
universal  mission  and  the  memory  of  its  many  victories, 
it  still  claims  to  be  sympathetic,  adequate,  adaptable  to  the 
problems  and  perplexities  of  each  successive  age. 

The  general  tendency  of  thought  since  the  Reformation 
has  been  in  the  direction  of  these  partial  presentations  of 
Christianity.  The  Reformers,  from  various  causes,  were  so 
occupied  with  what  is  now  called  Soteriology,  or  the  scheme 
of  salvation,  that  they  paid  but  scant  attention  to  the  other 
aspects  of  the  Gospel.  And  the  consequence  was  that  a 
whole  side  of  the  great  Christian  tradition,  and  one  on  which 
many  of  its  greatest  thinkers  had  lavished  the  labours  of  a 
lifetime,  was  allowed  almost  unconsciously  to  lapse  into  com- 
parative oblivion ;  and  the  religion  of  the  Incarnation  was 
narrowed  into  the  religion  of  the  Atonement.  Men's  views 
of  the  faith  dwindled  and  became  subjective  and  self-regard- 
ing, while  the  gulf  was  daily  widened  between  things  sacred 
and  things  secular ;  among  which  latter,  art  and  science, 
and  the  whole  political  and  social  order,  gradually  came  to 
be  classed. 

Far  otherwise  was  it  with  the  great  thinkers  of  the  early 
Church ;  and  that  not  from  an  under-estimate  of  the  saving 
power  of  the  Cross,  which  was  bearing  daily  fruit  around  them, 
of  penitence,  and  sanctity,  and  martyrdom ;  but  from  their 
regarding  Christian  salvation  in  its  context.  They  realized 
that  redemption  was  a  means  to  an  end,  and  that  end  the 
reconsecration  of  the  whole  universe  to  God.  And  so  the 
very  completeness  of  their  grasp  on  the  Atonement  led  them 
to  dwell  upon  the  cosmical  significance  of  the  Incarnation, 
its  purpose  to  '  gather  together  all  things  in  one.'  For  it 
was  an  age  in  which  the  problems  of  the  universe  were 
keenly  felt.  Philosophical  thinking,  if  less  mature,  was  not 
less  exuberant  than  now,  and  had  already  a  great  past  behind 
it.  And  the  natural  world,  though  its  structural  secrets  were 

184  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

little  understood,  fascinated  the  imagination  and  strained  the 
heart  with  its  appealing  beauty.  Spiritualism,  superstition, 
scepticism,  were  tried  in  turn  but  could  not  satisfy.  The 
questionings  of  the  intellect  still  pressed  for  a  solution.  And 
the  souls  of  Christians  were  stirred  to  proclaim  that  the 
new  power  which  they  felt  within  them,  restoring,  quicken- 
ing, harmonizing  the  whole  of  their  inner  life,  would  also 
prove  the  key  to  all  these  mysteries  of  matter  and  of 

So  it  was  that  the  theology  of  the  Incarnation  was  gra- 
dually drawn  out,  from  the  teaching  of  S.  Paul  and  of 
S.  John.  The  identity  of  Him  Who  was  made  man  and  dwelt 
among  us,  with  Him  by  Whom  all  things  were  made  and 
by  Whom  all  things  consist ;  His  eternal  pre-existence  as 
the  reason  and  the  word  of  God,  the  Logos ;  His  indwelling 
presence  in  the  universe  as  the  source  and  condition  of  all 
its  life,  and  in  man  as  the  light  of  His  intellectual  being; 
His  Resurrection,  His  Ascension, — all  these  thoughts  were 
woven  into  one  magnificent  picture,  wherein  creation  was 
viewed  as  the  embodiment  of  the  Divine  ideas,  and  therefore 
the  revelation  of  the  Divine  character  ;  manifesting  its  Maker 
with  increasing  clearness  at  each  successive  stage  in  the 
great  scale  of  being,  till  in  the  fulness  of  time  He  Himself 
became  man,  and  thereby  lifted  human  nature,  and  with  it 
the  material  universe  to  which  man  is  so  intimately  linked ; 
and  triumphing  over  the  sin  and  death  under  which  creation 
groaned  and  travailed,  opened  by  His  Resurrection  and  then 
by  His  Ascension  vistas  of  the  glorious  destiny  purposed 
for  His  creatures  before  the  world  was.  '  Factus  est  quod 
sumus  nos,  uti  nos  perficeret  esse  quod  est  ipse  V 

Such  is  the  view  of  the  Incarnation  in  what  may  be  called 
its  intellectual  aspect,  which  we  find  gradually  expressed 
with  increasing  clearness  by  the  Fathers,  from  Justin  to 
Athanasius.  And  with  all  its  deep  suggestiveness,  it  is  still  a 
severely  simple  picture,  drawn  in  but  few  outlines,  and  those 
strictly  scriptural.  It  was  born  of  no  abstract  love  of  meta- 
physic,  and  stands  in  striking  contrast  to  the  wild  specu- 

1  Irenaeus. 

v.      The  Incarnation  and  Development.        185 

lations  of  the  time.  Its  motive  and  its  method  were  both 
intensely  practical ;  its  motive  being  to  present  Christianity 
to  the  mind  as  well  as  to  the  heart ;  and  its  method  no 
more  than  to  connect  and  interpret  and  explain  the  definite 
statements  of  S.  Paul  and  S.  John.  Passing  over  the  dark 
ages,  when  thought  was  in  comparative  abeyance,  and  the 
energies  of  the  Church  absorbed  in  the  work  of  conversion 
and  organization,  we  come,  in  the  twelfth  and  following 
centuries,  to  a  second  period  of  intellectual  ferment,  less 
brilliant  than  that  which  characterized  the  decadence  of  the 
old  civilization,  but  instinct  with  all  the  fire  and  restlessness 
of  youth.  Unsobered  as  yet  by  experience,  and  unsupplied 
with  adequate  material  from  without,  thought  preyed  upon 
itself  and  revelled  in  its  new-found  powers  of  speculation. 
Fragments  of  the  various  heresies  which  the  Fathers  had 
answered  and  outlived  reappeared  with  all  the  halo  of 
novelty  around  them.  Religions  were  crudely  compared  and 
sceptical  inferences  drawn.  Popular  unbelief,  checked  in  a 
measure  by  authority,  avenged  itself  by  ridicule  of  all  things 
sacred.  It  was  a  period  of  intense  intellectual  unrest,  too 
many-sided  and  inconsequent  to  be  easily  described.  But 
as  far  as  the  anti-Christian  influences  of  the  time  can  be 
summarized  they  were  mainly  two: — the  Arabic  pantheism, 
and  the  materialism  which  was  fostered  in  the  medical 
schools  ;  kindred  errors,  both  concerned  with  an  undue  es- 
timate of  matter.  And  how  did  Christian  theology  meet 
them1?  Not  by  laying  stress,  like  the  later  Deists,  upon 
God's  infinite  distance  from  the  world,  but  upon  the  closeness 
of  His  intimacy  with  it :  by  reviving,  that  is,  with  increased 
emphasis  the  Patristic  doctrine  of  the  Incarnation,  as  the 
climax  and  the  keystone  of  the  whole  visible  creation.  There 
is  a  greater  divergence  of  opinion,  perhaps,  among  the  School- 
men than  among  the  Fathers  ;  and  a  far  greater  amount 
of  that  unprofitable  subtlety  for  which  they  are  apt  to  be 
somewhat  too  unintelligently  ridiculed.  But  on  the  point 
before  us,  as  on  all  others  of  primary  importance,  they  are 
substantially  unanimous,  and  never  fail  in  dignity. 

'  As  the  thought  of  the  Divine  mind  is  called  the  Word, 

1 86  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

Who  is  the  Son,  so  the  unfolding  of  that  thought  in  external 
action  (per  opera  exteriora)  is  named  the  word  of  the 
Word  V 

'  The  whole  world  is  a  kind  of  bodily  and  visible  Gospel  of 
that  Word  by  which  it  was  created  2.' 

'  Every  creature  is  a  theophany  3.' 

'  Every  creature  is  a  Divine  word,  for  it  tells  of  God  V 

'  The  wisdom  of  God.  when  first  it  issued  in  creation,  came 
not  to  us  naked,  but  clothed  in  the  apparel  of  created  things. 
And  then  when  the  same  wisdom  would  manifest  Himself  to 
us  as  the  Son  of  God,  He  took  upon  Him  a  garment  of  flesh 
and  so  was  seen  of  men  5.' 

'  The  Incarnation  is  the  exaltation  of  human  nature  and 
consummation  of  the  Universe 6.' 

Such  quotations  might  be  multiplied  indefinitely  from  the 
pages  of  the  Schoolmen  and  scholastic  theologians.  And  the 
line  of  thought  which  they  indicate  seems  to  lead  us  by  a 
natural  sequence  to  view  the  Incarnation  as  being  the  pre- 
destined climax  of  creation,  independently  of  human  sin. 
The  thought  is  of  course  a  mere  speculation,  'beyond  that 
which  is  written,'  but  from  its  first  appearance  in  the  twelfth 
century  it  has  been  regarded  with  increasing  favour ;  for  it  is 
full  of  rich  suggestiveness,  and  seems  to  throw  a  deeper 
meaning  into  all  our  investigations  of  the  world's  gradual 

Again,  from  the  relation  of  the  Word  to  the  universe  follows 
His  relation  to  the  human  mind.  For  '  that  life  was  the  light 
of  men.' 

'  The  created  intellect  is  the  imparted  likeness  of  God,'  says 
S.  Thomas ;  and  again,  '  Every  intellectual  process  has  its 
origin  in  the  Word  of  God  Who  is  the  Divine  Reason.'  '  The 
light  of  intellect  is  imprinted  upon  us  by  God  Himself 
(immediate  a  Deo).'  '  God  continually  works  in  the  mind, 
as  being  both  the  cause  and  the  guide  of  its  natural  light.' 

1  S.  Thorn.  Aq.  c.  Gent.  iv.  13.  *  S.  Bonav.  In  Eccles.  ci.  t.  ix. 

2  H.  de  Boseham  (Migne)'v.   190.  5  H.  de  S.Victor.    (^Migne)  v.   177. 
P-  '  3?.",-                                                             P-  58o. 

-  Scot.  Er.  (Migne)  v.  122.  p.  302.  6  S.  Thorn.  Aquinas. 

v.     The  Incarnation  and  Development.        187 

'  In  every  object  of  sensitive  or  rational  experience  God  Himself 
lies  hid  V  '  All  intelligences  know  God  implicitly,  in  every 
object  of  their  knowledge2.'  'Christ  is  our  internal  teacher 
and  no  truth  of  any  kind  is  known  but  through  Him  ;  though 
He  speaks  not  in  language  as  we  do,  but  by  interior  illu- 
mination3.' 'The  philosophers  have  taught  us  the  sciences, 
for  God  revealed  them  to  them  4.' 

II.  The  point  to  be  noticed  in  the  teaching  of  which  such 
passages  are  scattered  samples,  is  that  the  Schoolmen  and 
orthodox  mystics  of  the  middle  age,  with  Pantheism,  mate- 
rialism, rationalism  surging  all  around  them,  and  perfectly 
conscious  of  the  fact,  met  these  errors,  not  by  denying  the 
reality  of  matter,  or  the  capacity  of  reason,  as  later  apologists 
have  often  done,  but  by  claiming  for  both  a  place  in  the 
Theology  of  the  Word.  And  this  Theology  of  the  Word  was, 
in  reality,  quite  independent  of,  and  unaffected  by,  the  subtleties 
and  fallacies  and  false  opinions  of  the  age,  cobwebs  of  the 
unfurnished  intellect  which  time  has  swept  away.  It  was 
a  magnificent  framework,  outside  and  above  the  limited 
knowledge  of  the  day  and  the  peculiarities  of  individual 
thinkers  ;  an  inheritance  from  the  Patristic  tradition,  which 
the  Fathers,  in  their  turn,  had  not  invented,  but  received 
as  Apostolic  doctrine  from  Apostolic  men,  and  only  made 
more  explicit  by  gradual  definition,  during  centuries  when, 
it  has  been  fairly  said,  'the  highest  reason,  as  indepen- 
dently exercised  by  the  wise  of  the  world,  was  entirely 
coincident  with  the  highest  reason  as  inspiring  the  Church  5.' 
We  have  now  to  consider  whether  this  view  of  the  Incarnation, 
which,  though  in  the  countries  most  influenced  by  the  Refor- 
mation it  has  dropped  too  much  out  of  sight,  has  yet  never 
really  died  out  of  the  Church  at  large,  is  in  any  way  incom- 
patible with  the  results  of  modern  science  ;  or  whether,  on  the 
contrary,  it  does  not  provide  an  outline  to  which  science 
is  slowly  but  surely  giving  reality  and  content. 

And  at  the  outset  we  must  bear  in  mind  one  truth  which  is 

1  S.  Bonav.  de  Reduct.  sub  fin.  *  Id.  Lum.  Eccles.  S.  5. 

2  S.  Thorn.  Aq.  de  Verit.  22.  2.  i.  5  Mark  Pattison. 

3  S.  Bonav.  Lum.  Eccles.  S.  12. 

1 88  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

now  recognised  on  all  sides  as  final — viz.  that  the  finite 
intellect  cannot  transcend  the  conditions  of  finitude,  and 
cannot  therefore  reach,  or  even  conceive  itself  as  reaching,  an 
absolute,  or,  in  Kantian  phraseology,  a  speculative  knowledge 
of  the  beginning  of  things.  Whatever  strides  science  may 
make  in  time  to  come  towards  decomposing  atoms  and  forces 
into  simpler  and  yet  simpler  elements,  those  elements  will 
still  have  issued  from  a  secret  laboratory  into  which  science 
cannot  enter,  and  the  human  mind  will  be  as  far  as  ever  from 
knowing  what  they  really  are.  Further,  this  initial  limitation 
must  of  necessity  qualify  our  knowledge  in  its  every  stage. 
If  we  cannot  know  the  secret  of  the  elements  in  their  sim- 
plicity, neither  can  we  know  the  secret  of  their  successive 
combinations.  Before  the  beginning  of  our  present  system, 
and  behind  the  whole  course  of  its  continuous  development, 
there  is  a  vast  region  of  possibility,  which  lies  wholly  and  for 
ever  beyond  the  power  of  science  to  affirm  or  to  deny.  It  is 
in  this  region  that  Christian  theology  claims  to  have  its  roots, 
and  of  this  region  that  it  professes  to  give  its  adherents  certi- 
tude, under  conditions  and  by  methods  of  its  own.  And  of 
those  conditions  and  methods  it  fearlessly  asserts  that  they 
are  nowise  inconsistent  with  any  ascertained  or  ascertainable 
result  of  secular  philosophy. 

As  regards  the  origin  of  things,  this  is  obvious.  Science 
may  resolve  the  complicated  life  of  the  material  universe  into 
a  few  elementary  forces,  light  and  heat  and  electricity,  and 
these  perhaps  into  modifications  of  some  still  simpler  energy  ; 
but  of  the  origin  of  energy  (TO  Trpwroy  K.IVOVV)  it  knows  no 
more  than  did  the  Greeks  of  old.  Theology  asserts  that  in 
the  beginning  was  the  Word,  and  in  Him  was  life,  the  life  of 
all  things  created :  in  other  words,  that  He  is  the  source  of 
all  that  energy,  whose  persistent,  irresistible  versatility  of 
action  is  for  ever  at  work  moulding  and  clothing  and 
peopling  worlds.  The  two  conceptions  are  complementary, 
and  cannot  contradict  each  other. 

But  to  pass  from  the  origin  to  the  development  of  things : 
the  new  way  of  looking  at  nature  was  thought  at  first  both 
by  its  adherents  and  opponents  alike  to  be  inimical  to  the 

v.     The  Incarnation  and  Development.        189 

doctrine  of  final  causes.  And  here  was  a  direct  issue  joined 
with  Theology  at  once :  for  the  presence  of  final  causes  or 
design  in  the  universe  has  not  only  been  in  all  ages  one  of 
the  strongest  supports  for  natural  religion ;  it  is  contained  in 
the  very  notion  of  a  rational  creation,  a  creation  by  an 
Eternal  Reason.  And  this  was  supposed  to  be  directly 
negatived  by  the  doctrine  of  the  survival  of  the  fittest 
through  natural  selection :  for  if  of  a  thousand  forms, 
which  came  by  chance  into  existence,  the  one  which  hap- 
pened to  correspond  best  with  its  environment  survived, 
while  the  remainder  disappeared,  the  adaptation  of  the  sur- 
vivor to  its  circumstances  would  have  all  the  appearance  of 
design,  while  in  reality  due  to  accident.  If,  therefore,  this 
principle  acted  exclusively  throughout  the  universe,  the  result 
would  be  a  semblance  of  design  without  any  of  its  reality, 
from  which  no  theological  inference  could  be  drawn.  But 
this  consequence  of  natural  selection  obviously  depends  upon 
the  exclusiveness  of  its  action.  If  it  is  only  one  factor  among 
many  in  the  world's  development ;  while  there  are  instances 
of  adaptation  in  nature,  and  those  the  more  numerous,  for 
which  it  fails  to  account,  what  has  been  called  its  dysteleo- 
logical  significance  is  at  an  end.  Now  its  own  author  soon 
saw  and  admitted  the  inadequacy  of  the  theory  of  natural 
selection,  even  in  biology,  the  field  of  its  first  observation,  to 
account  for  all  the  facts :  while  countless  phenomena  in 
other  regions,  such  as  the  mechanical  principles  involved  in 
the  structure  of  the  universe,  the  laws  of  crystallography 
and  chemical  combination,  the  beauty  of  nature  taken  in 
connection  with  its  effect  upon  the  mind,  irresistibly  suggest 
design,  and  render  the  alternative  hypothesis,  from  its  mere 
mathematical  improbability,  almost  inconceivable.  And  there 
is  now,  therefore,  a  general  disposition  to  admit  that  the  force 
of  this  particular  attack  upon  the  doctrine  of  final  causes  has 
been  considerably  overstated. 

But  in  the  course  of  its  discussion  an  important  difference 
has  been  brought  to  light  between  external  and  internal 
purposes  or  ends.  The  kind  of  design  in  nature  which  first 
arrested  early  thinkers  was  its  usefulness  to  man.  Even  in 

1 90  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

scenery,  it  has  been  suggested,  they  saw  the  utility  before 
the  beauty.  And  so  they  came  to  look  upon  all  natural 
phenomena  as  having  for  their  final  cause  the  good  of  man ; 
and  the  world  as  a  machine,  a  contrivance  of  which  the  parts 
have  no  value  except  as  contributing  to  the  work  of  the 
whole,  and  the  whole  exists  only  to  produce  a  result  outside 
and  independent  of  itself,  an  external  end,  as  if  corn  should 
exist  solely  to  provide  food  for  man.  This  was  not  an  untrue 
conception  ;  a  shallow  thing  to  say  of  the  reason  for  which 
Socrates  believed  in  God ;  but  it  was  partial  and  inadequate, 
as  Bacon  and  Spinoza  shewed.  And  we  have  now  come  to 
regard  the  world  not  as  a  machine,  but  as  an  organism,  a 
system  in  which,  while  the  parts  contribute  to  the  growth  of 
the  whole,  the  whole  also  reacts  upon  the  development  of  the 
parts ;  and  whose  primary  purpose  is  its  own  perfection, 
something  that  is  contained  within  and  not  outside  itself,  an 
internal  end:  while  in  their  turn  the  myriad  parts  of  this 
universal  organism  are  also  lesser  organisms,  ends  in  and  for 
themselves,  pursuing  each  its  lonely  ideal  of  individual  com- 
pleteness. Now  when  we  look  at  nature  in  this  way,  and 
watch  the  complex  and  subtle  processes  by  which  a  crystal, 
a  leaf,  a  lily,  a  moth,  a  bird,  a  star  realize  their  respective 
ideals  with  undisturbed,  unfailing  accuracy,  we  cannot  help 
attributing  them  to  an  intelligent  Creator.  But  when  we 
further  find  that  in  the  very  course  of  pursuing  their  primary 
ends,  and  becoming  perfect  after  their  kind,  the  various  parts 
of  the  universe  do  in  fact  also  become  means,  and  with  in- 
finite ingenuity  of  correspondence  and  adaptation,  subserve 
not  only  one  but  a  thousand  secondary  ends,  linking  and 
weaving  themselves  together  by  their  mutual  ministration 
into  an  orderly,  harmonious,  complicated  whole,  the  signs  of 
intelligence  grow  clearer  still.  And  when,  beyond  all  this,  we 
discover  the  quality  of  beauty  in  every  moment  and  situation 
of  this  complex  life ;  the  drop  of  water  that  circulates  from 
sea  to  cloud,  and  cloud  to  earth,  and  earth  to  plant,  and  plant 
to  life-blood,  shining  the  while  with  strange  spiritual  sig- 
nificance in  the  sunset  and  the  rainbow  and  the  dewdrop 
and  the  tear ;  the  universal  presence  of  this  attribute,  so 

v.      The  Incarnation  and  Development.        191 

unessential  to  the  course  of  nature,  but  so  infinitely  powerful 
in  its  appeal  to  the  human  mind,  is  reasonably  urged  as 
a  crowning  proof  of  purposeful  design. 

The  treatment  which  these  various  aspects  of  teleology  have 
received,  during  the  last  few  years,  may  be  fairly  called  ex- 
haustive :  and  the  result  of  all  the  sifting  controversy  has 
been  to  place  the  evidence  for  design  in  nature  on  a  stronger 
base  than  ever :  partly  because  we  feel  that  we  have  faced  the 
utmost  that  can  be  urged  against  it ;  partly  because,  under 
scientific  guidance,  we  have  acquired  a  more  real,  as  distinct 
from  a  merely  notional  apprehension  of  the  manifold  adapta- 
tions of  structure  to  function,  which  the  universe  presents ; 
and  these  adaptations  and  correspondences,  when  grasped  in 
their  infinite  multiplicity,  furnish  us  with  a  far  worthier  and 
grander  View  of  teleology  than  the  mechanical  theory  of 
earlier  days. 

All  this  is  in  perfect  harmony  with  our  Christian  creed,  that 
all  things  were  made  by  the  Eternal  Reason ;  but  more  than 
this,  it  illustrates  and  is  illustrated  by  the  further  doctrine  of 
His  indwelling  presence  in  the  things  of  His  creation  ;  render- 
ing each  of  them  at  once  a  revelation  and  a  prophecy,  a  thing 
of  beauty  and  finished  workmanship,  worthy  to  exist  for  its 
own  sake,  and  yet  a  step  to  higher  purposes,  an  instrument 
for  grander  work. 

God  tastes  an  infinite  joy 
In  infinite  ways — one  everlasting  bliss, 
From  whom  all  being  emanates,  all  power 
Proceeds :   in  whom  is  life  for  evermore, 
Yet  whom  existence  in  its  lowest  form 
Includes ;   where  dwells  enjoyment,  there  is  He  : 
With  still  a  flying  point  of  bliss  remote, 
A  happiness  in  store  afar,  a  sphere 
Of  distant  glory  in  full  view. 

And  science  has  done  us  good  service  in  recalling  this 
doctrine  to  mind.  For  it  has  a  religious  as  well  as  a  theo- 
logical importance,  constituting,  as  it  does,  the  element  of  truth 
in  that  higher  Pantheism  which  is  so  common  in  the  present 
day.  Whether  the  term  higher  Pantheism  is  happily  chosen 
or  not,  the  thing  which  it  denotes  is  quite  distinct  from 

192  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

Pantheism  proper,  with  its  logical  denial  of  human  personality 
and  freedom.  It  is  the  name  of  an  emotion  rather  than 
a  creed;  that  indescribable  mystic  emotion  which  the  poet, 
the. artist,  the  man  of  science,  and  all  their  kindred  feel  in 
contemplating  the  beauty  or  the  wonder  of  the  world.  Vague 
as  it  is,  and  indefinite,  this  sentiment  is  still  one  of  the 
strongest  of  which  our  nature  is  susceptible,  and  should  be 
recognised  as  an  integral  element  in  all  true  religion.  Yet 
for  want  of  such  recognition  on  the  part  of  Christians  it  is 
often  allowed  to  gravitate  nearer  and  nearer  to  pure  Pantheism, 
with  which  it  has,  in  reality,  no  essential  affinity.  We  cannot 
therefore  over-estimate  the  importance  of  restoring  to  its  due 
place  in  theology  the  doctrine  of  the  Divine  immanence  in 
nature,  to  which  this  sentiment  is  the  instinctive  witness. 
Fathers,  schoolmen,  mystics,  who  were  quite  as  alive  to  any 
danger  of  Pantheism  as  ourselves,  yet  astonish  us  by  the 
boldness  of  their  language  upon  this  point ;  and  we  need  not 
fear  to  transgress  the  limits  of  the  Christian  tradition  in 
saying  that  the  physical  immanence  of  God  the  Word  in 
His  creation  can  hardly  be  overstated,  as  long  as  His  moral 
transcendence  of  it  is  also  kept  in  view. 

'  God  dwelleth  within  all  things,  and  without  all  things, 
above  all  things  and  beneath  all  things  Y  says  S.  Gregory  the 

'  The  immediate  operation  of  the  Creator  is  closer  to 
everything  than  the  operation  of  any  secondary  cause,'  says 
S.  Thomas  2. 

And  Cornelius  a  Lapide,  after  comparing  our  dependence 
upon  God  to  that  of  a  ray  on  the  sun,  an  embryo  on  the 
womb,  a  bird  on  the  air,  concludes  with  the  words,  '  Seeing 
then  that  we  are  thus  united  to  God  physically,  we  ought  also 
to  be  united  to  Him  morally3.' 

Here  are  three  typical  theologians,  in  three  different  ages, 
not  one  of  them  a  mystic  even,  using  as  the  language  of  sober 
theology  words  every  whit  as  strong  as  any  of  the  famous 
Pantheistic  passages  in  our  modern  literature ;  and  yet  when 

1  Mag.  Mor.  ii.  12.  2  S.  Thorn.  Aq.  ii.  Sent.  i.  i. 

3  In  Act.  Apost.  c.  17.  v.  28. 

v.     The  Incarnation  and  Development.       193 

raet  with  in  that  literature  they  are  commonly  regarded  as 
pleasing  expressions  of  poetic  dreams,  very  far  away  from,  if 
not  even  inconsistent  with  what  is  thought  to  be  dogmatic 

To  sum  up  then,  the  reopening  of  the  teleological  question 
has  not  only  led  to  its  fuller  and  more  final  answer,  but  has 
incidentally  contributed  to  revive  among  us  an  important 
aspect  of  the  Theology  of  the  Word. 

The  next  point  upon  which  the  theory  of  evolution  came  in 
contact  with  received  opinion,  was  its  account  of  the  origin  of 
man.  Man,  it  was  maintained,  in  certain  quarters,  was  only 
the  latest  and  most  complex  product  of  a  purely  material  process 
of  development.  His  reason,  with  all  its  functions  of  imagi- 
nation, conscience,  will,  was  only  a  result  of  his  sensibility,  and 
that  of  his  nervous  tissue,  and  that  again  of  matter  less  and  less 
finely  organized,  till  at  last  a  primitive  protoplasm  was  reached; 
while  what  had  been  called  his  fall  was  in  reality  his  rise, 
being  due  to  the  fact  that  with  the  birth  of  reason  came  self- 
consciousness  ;  or  the  feeling  of  a  distinction  between  self  and 
the  outer  world,  ripening  into  a  sense,  and  strictly  speaking 
an  illusory  sense  of  discord  between  the  two. 

Theologians  first  thought  it  necessary  to  contest  every 
detail  of  this  development,  beginning  with  the  antiquity  of 
man ;  and  some  are  still  inclined  to  intrench  themselves  in 
one  or  two  positions  which  they  think  impregnable,  such  as 
the  essential  difference  in  kind  between  organized  and  in- 


organic  matter,  or  again  between  animal  instinct  and  the 
self-conscious  reason  of  man :  while  others  are  content  to 
assume  a  sceptical  attitude  and  point  to  the  disagreement 
between  the  men  of  science  themselves,  as  sufficient  evidence 
of  their  untruth.  But  none  of  these  views  are  theologically 
needed.  The  first  is  certainly,  the  second  possibly  unsound, 
and  the  third,  to  say  the  least  of  it,  unkind.  It  is  quite  true 
that  the  evolution  of  man  is  at  present  nothing  more  than  an 
hypothesis,  and  an  hypothesis  open  to  very  grave  scientific 
objections.  The  attempts  to  analyse  reason  and  conscience 
back  into  unconscious  and  unmoral  elements,  for  all  their 
unquestioned  ingenuity,  are  still  far  from  being  conclusive ; 


194  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

and  then  there  is  the  geological  admissibility  of  the  time 
which  it  would  require,  and  that  is  still  a  matter  of  hopeless 
controversy  between  scientific  experts.  And  even  if  these 
and  numerous  kindred  difficulties  were  to  be  removed  in  time 
to  come,  the  hypothesis  would  still  be  no  nearer  demonstra- 
tion ;  for  the  only  evidence  we  can  possibly  obtain  of  pre- 
historic man  is  his  handiwork  of  one  kind  or  another,  his 
implements  or  pictures,  things  implying  the  use  of  reason.  In 
other  words,  we  can  only  prove  his  existence  through  his 
rationality ;  through  his  having  been,  on  the  point  in  ques- 
tion, identical  in  kind  with  what  now  he  is.  And  suspense 
of  judgment  therefore  upon  the  whole  controversy  is,  at 
present,  the  only  scientific  state  of  mind. 

But  there  are  facts  upon  the  other  side ;  the  undoubted  an- 
tiquity of  the  human  race  ;  the  gradual  growth  which  can  be 
scientifically  traced,  in  our  thought  and  language  and  morality, 
and  therefore,  to  the  extent  that  functions  react  upon  their 
faculties,  even  in  our  conscience  and  our  reason  too  ;  and  then 
the  immense  presumption  from  the  gathering  proofs  of  all  other 
development,  that  man  will  be  no  exception  to  the  universal 
law.  All  these  positive  indications  at  least  suggest  the 
possibility  that  the  difficulties  of  the  theory  may  one  day 
vanish,  and  its  widest  chasms  close.  And  we  cannot  there- 
fore be  too  emphatic  in  asserting  that  theology  would  have 
nothing  whatever  to  fear  from  such  a  result.  When  we  see 
energy  and  atoms  building  up  an  harmonious  order,  we  feel 
there  is  an  inner  secret  in  the  energy  and  atoms,  which  we 
cannot  hope  to  penetrate  by  merely  watching  them  at  work. 
And  so,  when  we  see  human  minds  and  wills  weaving  a  veil 
over  the  universe,  of  thought  and  love  and  holiness,  and  are 
told  that  all  these  things  are  but  higher  modes  of  material 
nature,  we  only  feel  that  the  inner  secret  of  material  nature 
must  be  yet  more  wonderful  than  we  supposed.  But  though 
our  wonder  may  increase,  our  difficulties  will  not.  If  we 
believe,  as  we  have  seen  that  Christian  Theology  has  always 
believed,  in  a  Divine  Creator  not  only  present  behind  the 
beginning  of  matter  but  immanent  in  its  every  phase,  and 
co-operating  with  its  every  phenomenon,  the  method  of  His 

v.     The  Incarnation  and  Development.        195 

working,  though  full  of  speculative  interest,  will  be  of  no 
controversial  importance.  Time  was  when  the  different  kinds 
of  created  things  were  thought  to  be  severed  by  impassable 
barriers.  But  many  of  these  barriers  have  already  given  way 
before  science,  and  species  are  seen  to  be  no  more  inde- 
pendent than  the  individuals  that  compose  them.  If  the 
remaining  barriers  between  unreason  and  reason,  or  between 
lifelessness  and  life  should  in  like  manner  one  day  vanish, 
we  shall  need  to  readjust  the  focus  of  our  spiritual  eye  to  the 
enlarged  vision,  but  nothing  more.  Our  Creator  will  be 
known  to  have  worked  otherwise  indeed  than  we  had 
thought,  but  in  a  way  quite  as  conceivable,  and  to  the 
imagination  more  magnificent.  And  all  is  alike  covered  by 
the  words  '  without  Him  was  not  anything  made  that  was 
made  :  and  in  Him  was  life.'  In  fact  the  evolutionary  origin 
of  man  is  afar  less  serious  question  than  the  attack  upon  final 
causes.  Its  biblical  aspect  has  grown  insignificant  in  pro- 
portion as  we  have  learned  to  regard  the  Hebrew  cosmology 
in  a  true  light.  And  the  popular  outcry  which  it  raised  was 
largely  due  to  sentiment,  and  sentiment  not  altogether  un- 
tinged  by  human  pride. 

We  may  pass  on  therefore  from  the  evolution  of  man  and  his 
mind  in  general,  to  his  various  modes  of  mental  activity  in 
science  and  philosophy  and  art.  Here  the  Christian  doctrine 
is  twofold :  first,  that  all  the  objects  of  our  thought,  mathe- 
matical relations,  scientific  laws,  social  systems,  ideals  of  art, 
are  ideas  of  the  Divine  Wisdom,  the  Logos,  written  upon  the 
pages  of  the  world ;  and  secondly,  that  our  power  of  reading 
them,  our  thinking  faculty  acts  and  only  can  act  rightly  by 
Divine  assistance  ;  that  the  same  '  motion  and  power  that 
impels'  'all  objects  of  all  thought'  impels  also  '  all  thinking 
things.'  And  both  these  statements  are  met  by  objection. 
In  the  first  place,  it  is  urged,  there  is  no  fixity  in  the  universe, 
and  it  cannot  therefore  be  the  embodiment  of  Divine  ideas. 
All  things  live  and  move  under  our  eyes.  Species  bear  no 
evidence  of  having  been  created  in  their  completeness  ;  on  the 
contrary  they  are  perpetually  undergoing  transmutation,  and 
cannot  therefore  represent  ideas,  cannot  have  been  created  on 

o  2 

196  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

a  plan.  For  ideas,  in  proportion  to  their  perfection,  must  be 
definite,  clean-cut,  clear.  The  answer  to  this  objection  is 
contained  in  what  has  been  already  said  upon  the  subject 
of  organic  teleology.  But  an  analogy  drawn  from  human 
thinking  may  illustrate  it  further.  It  is  in  reality  the  ideas 
which  our  mind  has  done  with,  its  dead  ideas  which  are  clean- 
cut  and  definite  and  fixed.  The  ideas  which  at  any  moment 
go  to  form  our  mental  life  are  quick  and  active  and  full  of 
movement,  and  melt  into  each  other  and  are  ever  developing 
anew.  A  book  is  no  sooner  finished  and  done  with,  than  it  strikes 
its  author  as  inadequate.  It  becomes  antiquated  as  soon  as  its 
ideas  have  been  assimilated  by  the  public  mind.  And  that 
because  the  thought  of  author  and  public  alike  is  alive,  and 
ever  moving  onward ;  incapable  of  being  chained  to  any  one 
mode  of  expression ;  incapable  of  being  stereotyped.  The 
highest  notion  we  can  frame  therefore  of  a  mind  greater  than 

O  a 

our  own  is  of  one  that  has  no  dead  ideas,  no  abstract  or 
antiquated  formulae,  but  whose  whole  content  is  entirely, 
essentially  alive.  And  the  perpetual  development  which  we 
are  learning  to  trace  throughout  the  universe  around  us  would 
be  the  natural  expression  therefore  of  that  Logos  Who  is  the 

But  when  we  turn  from  the  objective  to  the  subjective  side 
of  knowledge,  we  are  met  with  a  second  objection.  The 
doctrine  that  the  Divine  Logos  co-operates  with  the  human 
reason,  is  supposed  to  be  inconsistent  with  the  undoubted  fact 
that  many  earnest  and  successful  thinkers  have  been  if  not 
atheistic,  at  least  agnostic ;  unable,  that  is,  to  attain  to  the 
very  knowledge  to  which,  as  it  would  seem  on  the  Christian 
hypothesis,  all  intellectual  effort  should  inevitably  lead.  But 
this  difficulty  is  only  superficial.  When  we  say  that  the 
Divine  reason  assists,  we  do  not  mean  that  it  supersedes  the 
human.  An  initiative  still  lies  with  man ;  and  he  must 
choose  of  his  own  accord  the  particular  field  of  his  intel- 
lectual pursuit.  When  he  has  chosen  his  line  of  study,  and 
followed  it  with  the  requisite  devotion,  he  will  arrive  at  the 
kind  of  truth  to  which  that  particular  study  leads,  the  physi- 
cist at  laws  of  nature,  the  philosopher  at  laws  of  thought, 

v.     The  Incarnation  and  Development,       197 

the  artist  at  ideal  beauty,  the  moralist  at  ethical  truth  ;  and 
in  each  case,  as  we  believe,  by  Divine  assistance,  his  discoveries 
being  in  fact  revelations.  But  the  method,  the  education,  the 
experience  involved  in  different  studies  are  so  distinct,  that  few 
in  a  lifetime  can  reach  the  eminence  that  teaches  with  autho- 
rity, or  even  the  intelligence  that  thoroughly  appreciates,  more 
than  one  department  of  the  complex  world  of  thought.  And 
if  a  man  wanders  from  his  own  province  into  unfamiliar 
regions,  he  naturally  meets  with  failure  in  proportion  to 
his  hardihood.  In  the  case  of  the  special  sciences  this  is 
universally  recognised.  No  astronomer  would  think  of  dog- 
matizing on  a  question  of  geology,  nor  a  biologist  on  the 
details  of  chemistry  or  physics.  But  when  it  is  a  question 
between  science  and  philosophy,  the  rule  is  often  forgotten ; 
and  the  spectacle  of  scientific  specialists  blundering  about  in 
metaphysics  is  painfully  common  in  the  present  day :  while 
strange  to  say,  in  the  case  of  theology  this  forgetfulness  reaches 
a  climax,  and  men  claim  casually  to  have  an  opinion  upon 
transcendent  mysteries,  without  any  of  the  preparation  which 
they  would  be  the  first  to  declare  needful  for  success  in  the 
smallest  subsection  of  any  one  of  the  branches  of  science. 

Nor  is  preparation  all  that  is  wanted.  Science  is  impossible 
without  experiment,  and  experiment  is  the  lower  analogue  of 
what  in  religion  is  called  experience.  As  experiment  alone  gives 
certainty  in  the  one  case,  so  does  experience  alone  in  the  other. 
And  it  is  only  the  man  who  has  undergone  such  experience, 
with  all  its  imperative  demands  upon  his  whole  character  and 
life,  that  can  justly  expect  satisfaction  of  his  religious  doubts 
and  needs ;  while  <  nly  those  who,  like  S.  Paul  or  S.  Augustine, 
have  experienced  it  in  an  exceptional  degree,  are  entitled  to 
speak  with  authority  upon  the  things  to  which  it  leads. 
Here  again  a  human  analogy  may  help  us.  For  in  studying  a 
human  character  there  are  different  planes  upon  which  we  may 
approach  it.  There  are  the  external  aspects  of  the  man,  the 
fashion  of  his  garments,  the  routine  of  his  life,  the  regulation 
of  his  time,  his  official  habits  ;  all  which,  it  may  be  noted 
in  passing,  in  the  case  of  a  great  character,  are  uniform,  not 
because  thev  were  not  once  the  free  creation  of  his  will,  but 

198  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

because  he  knows  the  practical  value  of  uniformity  in  all  such 
things  ;  and  all  these  externals  are  open  to  the  observation  even 
of  a  stranger.  Then  there  are  the  man's  thoughts,  which 
may  be  withheld  or  revealed  at  his  pleasure ;  and  these  can 
only  be  understood  by  kindred  minds,  who  have  been  trained 
to  understand  them.  Lastly,  there  are  his  will  and  affections, 
the  region  of  his  motives,  the  secret  chamber  in  which  his  real 
personality  resides ;  and  these  are  only  known  to  those  in- 
timate friends  and  associates  whose  intuition  is  quickened  by 
the  sympathy  of  love.  Now  all  these  stages  are  gone  through 
in  the  formation  of  a  friendship.  First  we  are  struck  by  a 
man's  appearance,  and  so  led  to  listen  to  his  conversation,  and 
thence  to  make  his  acquaintance,  and  at  last  to  become  his 
friend.  And  so  with  the  knowledge  of  God.  The  man  of 
science,  as  such,  can  discover  the  uniformities  of  His  action  in 
external  nature.  The  moral  philosopher  will  further  see  that 
these  actions  '  make  for  righteousness '  and  that  there  is  a 
moral  law.  But  it  is  only  to  the  spiritual  yearning  of  our 
whole  personality  that  He  reveals  Himself  as  a  person.  This 
analogy  will  make  the  Christian  position  intelligible ;  but  for 
Christians  it  is  more  than  an  analogy.  It  is  simply  a  state- 
ment of  facts.  For,  to  Christians,  the  Incarnation  is  the  final 
sanction  of '  anthropomorphism,'  revealing  the  Eternal  Word  as 
strictly  a  Person,  in  the  ordinary  sense  and  with  all  the 
attributes  which  we  commonly  attach  to  the  name *. 

Consequently,  upon  all  this  we  are  quite  consistent  in 
maintaining  that  all  great  teachers  of  whatever  kind  are 
vehicles  of  revelation,  each  in  his  proper  sphere,  and  in 
accepting  their  verified  conclusions  as  Divinely  true ;  while 
we  reject  them  the  moment  they  transgress  their  limits, 
as  thereby  convicted  of  unsound  thinking,  and  therefore  de- 
prived of  the  Divine  assistance  which  was  the  secret  of  their 
previous  success.  And  though  such  transgression  may  in  many 
cases  involve  a  minimum  of  moral  error,  there  are  abundant 
instances  in  the  history  of  thought  that  it  is  not  always  so. 
Francis  Bacon,  and  the  penitent,  pardoned  Abelard  are  typical, 
in  different  degrees,  of  a  countless  multitude  of  lesser  men. 

1  Cp.  p.  64. 

v.      The  Incarnation  and  Development.        199 

*  For  our  knowledge  of  first  principles,'  says  S.  Augustine, 
'  we  have  recourse  to  that  inner  troth  that  presides  over 
the  mind.  And  that  indwelling  teacher  of  the  mind  is 
Christ,  the  changeless  virtue  and  eternal  wisdom  of  God, 
to  which  every  rational  soul  has  recourse.  But  so  much 
only  is  revealed  to  each  as  his  own  good  or  evil  will 
enables  him  to  receive1.' 

'  Nor  is  it  the  fault  of  the  Word,'  adds  S.  Thomas,  '  that 
all  men  do  not  attain  to  the  knowledge  of  the  truth,  but 
some  remain  in  darkness.  It  is-  the  fault  of  men  who  do 
not  turn  to  the  Word  and  so  cannot  fully  receive  Him. 
Whence  there  is  still  more  or  less  darkness  remaining  among 
men,  in  proportion  to  the  lesser  or  greater  degree  in  which 
they  turn  to  the  Word  and  receive  Him.  And  so  John,  to 
preclude  any  thought  of  deficiency  in  the  illuminating  power 
of  the  Word,  after  saying  "  that  life  was  the  light  of  men," 
adds  "  the  light  shineth  in  darkness,  and  the  darkness  com- 
prehended it  not."  The  darkness  is  not  because  the  Word  does 
not  shine,  but  because  some  do  not  receive  the  light  of 
the  Word ;  as  while  the  light  of  the  material  sun  is  shining 
over  the  world,  it  is  only  dark  to  those  whose  eyes  are 
closed  or  feeble2.' 

It  has  been  necessary  to  dwell  upon  this  doctrine  because 
it  has  an  important  bearing  upon  two  further  questions, 
which  the  philosophy  of  evolution  has  broiight  into  new 
prominence,  the  relation  of  Christianity  to  previous  philoso- 
phy and  other  religions.  It  was  the  fashion,  not  long  ago, 
to  give  an  undue  value  to  the  part  played  by  environment 
or  surrounding  circumstances  in  the  creation  of  characters 
and  institutions  and  creeds,  to  the  exclusion  of  all  elements 
of  native  originality.  And  the  attempt  was  made  accordingly, 
in  various  ways,  to  represent  Christianity  as  the  natural 
product  of  the  different  religions  and  philosophies  which 
were  current  in  the  world  at  the  time  of  its  appearing. 
But  the  further  study  of  evolution  has  qualified  this  whole 
mode  of  thought  by  the  way  in  which,  as  we  have  seen 
above,  it  has  led  us  to  look  at  things  as  organisms  rather 

1  S.  Aug.  deMagist.  38.  t.  i.  p.  916.  a  S.  Thorn.  Aq.  cont.  Gent.  iv.  13. 

2OO  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

than  machines.  A  machine  has  no  internal  principle  of 
unity.  Its  unity  is  impressed  upon  it  from  without.  And 
it  may  be  granted  therefore,  for  the  sake  of  argument,  that 
we  might  conceive  a  machine  or  number  of  machines  as 
formed  like  the  patterns  in  a  caleidoscope  by  a  happy  coin- 
cidence of  atoms  ;  and  man,  if  he  were  only  a  machine,  as 
strictly  the  creature  of  circumstance.  But  an  organism  is 
a  different  thing.  Dependent  as  it  is  upon  its  environment 
in  an  hundred  various  ways,  it  is  yet  more  dependent  upon 
its  own  selective  and  assimilative  capacity,  in  other  words 
upon  its  own  individuality,  its  self.  And  so  the  notions 
of  individuality, .  originality,  personal  identity  have  been 
restored  to  their  place  in  the  world  of  thought.  The 
old  error  lingers  on,  and  is  sometimes  crudely  re-asserted, 
especially  in  its  anti-Christian  bearing ;  but  it  has  been 
discredited  by  science,  and  is  in  fact  a  thing  of  the  past. 
And  in  consequence  of  this,  the  attempt  can  no  longer  be 
plausibly  made  to  account  for  Christianity  apart  from  the 
personality  of  Jesus  Christ.  The  mythical  theories  have 
had  their  day.  And  it  is  recognised  on  all  hands  that  mere 
aspiration  can  no  more  create  a  religion  than  appetite  can 
create  food.  A  foundation  needs  a  founder. 

But  the  attack  thus  diverted  from  our  religion  glances  off  on 
our  theology.  The  Christian  religion,  it  is  granted,  was  founded 
by  Jesus  Christ ;  but  its  theological  interpretation  is  viewed 
as  a  misinterpretation,  a  malign  legacy  from  the  dying  philo- 
sophies of  Greece.  This  objection  is  as  old  as  the  second  cen- 
tury, and  has  been  revived  at  intervals  in  various  forms,  and 
with  varying  degrees  of  success.  Modern  historical  criticism 
has  only  fortified  it  with  fresh  instances.  But  it  has  no 
force  whatever  if  we  believe  that  the  Divine  Word  was  for 
ever  working  in  the  world  in  co-operation  with  human 
reason;  inspiring  the  higher  minds  among  the  Jews  with 
their  thirst  for  holiness,  and  so  making  ready  for  the  coming 
of  the  Holy  One  in  Jewish  flesh:  but  inspiring  the  Greeks 
also  with  their  intellectual  eagerness,  and  preparing  them 
to  recognise  Him  as  the  Eternal  Reason,  the  Word,  the  Truth  ; 
and  to  define  and  defend,  and  demonstrate  that  Truth  to  the 

v.     The  Incarnation  and  Development,       201 

outer  world.  The  fact  that  Greek  philosophy  had  passed  its 
zenith  and  was  declining  did  not  make  its  influence  upon 
Christianity  an  evil  one,  a  corruption  of  the  living  by  the 
dead.  It  was  only  dying  to  be  incorporated  in  a  larger  life. 
The  food  that  supports  our  existence  owes  its  power  of  nu- 
trition to  the  fact,  that  it  too  once  lived  with  an  inferior 
life  of  its  own.  And  so  the  Greek  philosophy  was  capable 
of  assimilation  by  the  Christian  organism,  from  the  fact 
that  it  too  had  once  been  vitally  inspired  by  the  life  that  is 
the  light  of  men.  And  the  true  successors  of  Plato  and  Aris- 
totle were  the  men  of  progress  who  realized  this  fact ;  not 
Celsus,  Lucian,  Porphyry,  but  the  Fathers  of  the  Church. 

Clement  and  Origen,  Athanasius  and  Augustine,  the  Grego- 
ries  and  Basil  understood  Greek  philosophy  as  clearly  as 
S.  Paul  understood  Judaism,  and  recognised  its  completion 
as  plainly  in  the  Incarnation  of  the  Word.  Nor  was  this 
view  of  the  Incarnation  in  the  one  case,  any  more  than  in 
the  other,  assumed  for  a  merely  apologetic  purpose.  These 
men  were  essentially  philosophers,  among  the  foremost  of 
their  age.  They  knew  and  have  testified  what  philosophy 
had  clone  for  their  souls,  and  what  it  could  not  do ;  how 
far  it  had  led  them  forward;  and  of  what  longings  it  had 
left  them  full.  True,  philosophy  had  as  little  expected  Wis- 
dom to  become  incarnate,  and  that  amongst  the  barbarians,  the 
outcast  and  the  poor,  as  Judaism  had  expected  Messiah  to 
suffer,  and  to  suffer  at  the  hand  of  Jews.  But  no  sooner 
was  the  Incarnation  accomplished,  than  it  flooded  the  whole 
past  of  Greece  no  less  than  Judaea  with  a  new  light.  This 
was  what  it  all  meant ;  this  was  what  it  unwittingly  aimed 
at ;  the  long  process  of  dialectic  and  prophecy  were  here 
united  in  their  goal. 

'  Those  who  lived  under  the  guidance  of  the  Eternal  Reason 
(p.fTa  Ao'you  /Stwo-ayres)  as  Socrates,  Heraclitus,  and  such-like 
men,  are  Christians/  run  the  well-known  words  of  Justin 
Martyr,  '  even  though  they  were  reckoned  to  be  atheists  in 
their  day.'  (Ap.  i.  46.)  Different  minds  have  always  differed, 
and  will  continue  to  differ  widely  as  to  the  degree  in  which 
Greek  thought  contributed  to  the  doctrines  of  the  Trinity  and 

2O2  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

the  Incarnation.  It  is  a  difficult  and  delicate  question  for 
historical  criticism  to  decide.  But  the  essential  thing  to  bear 
in  mind  is  that  the  Christian  doctrine  of  the  Logos  amply 
covers  any  possible  view  which  criticism  may  establish  upon 
the  point.  For,  in  the  light  of  that  doctrine,  it  is  merely 
a  question  of  the  degree  in  which  the  Eternal  Word  chose 
to  reveal  Himself  through  one  agency  rather  than  another. 

Any  attack,  therefore,  upon  our  theology  for  its  connection 
with  Greek  thought,  is  powerless  to  disturb  us  ;  since  we 
accept  the  fact  but  give  it  another,  a  deeper  interpretation : 
while  we  rejoice  in  every  fresh  proof  that  the  great  thoughts 
of  the  Greek  mind  were  guided  by  a  higher  power,  and 
consecrated  to  a  nobler  end  than  ever  their  authors  dreamed 
of;  and  that  the  true  classic  culture  is  no  alien  element  but  a 
legitimate  ingredient  in  Catholic,  complete  Christianity. 

And  the  same  line  of  thought  gives  us  a  clue  to  the 
history  of  religious  development,  the  latest  field  to  which  the 
philosophy  of  evolution  has  been  extended.  For  though  a 
superficial  comparison  of  religions,  with  a  more  or  less 
sceptical  result,  has  often  been  attempted  before,  as  for 
instance  in  the  thirteenth  century  with  its  well-known  story  of 
the  three  impostors  ;  anything  like  a  scientific  study  of  them 
has  been  impossible  till  now.  For  now  for  the  first  time  we 
are  beginning  to  have  the  facts  before  us  ;  the  facts  consisting 
in  the  original  documents  of  the  various  historic  creeds,  and 
accumulated  observations  on  the  religious  ideas  of  uncivilized 
races.  In  both  these  fields  very  much  remains  to  be  done  ; 
but  still  there  is  enough  done  already  to  justify  a  few  general- 
izations. But  the  subject  is  intensely  complex,  and  there  has 
been  far  too  great  a  tendency,  as  in  all  new  sciences,  to  rush 
to  premature  conclusions.  For  example,  there  is  the  shallow 
scepticism  which  seizes  upon  facts,  like  the  many  parallelisms 
between  the  moral  precepts  of  earlier  religions  and  the  sermon 
on  the  Mount,  as  a  convincing  proof  that  Christianity  contains 
nothing  that  is  new.  No  serious  student  of  comparative 
religions  would  justify  such  an  inference;  but  it  is  a  very 
common  and  mischievous  fallacy  in  the  half-culture  of  the 
day.  Then  there  is  the  rash  orthodoxy,  that  is  over  eager  to 

v.      The  Incarnation  and  Development.       203 

accept  any  result  that  tallies  with  its  own  preconceived 
opinions  as,  for  instance,  the  belief  in  a  primitive  monotheism. 
No  doubt  several  very  competent  authorities  think  that  the 
present  evidence  points  in  that  direction.  But  a  majority  of 
critics  equally  competent  think  otherwise.  And  meanwhile, 
there  is  a  mass  of  evidence  still  waiting  collection  and  inter- 
pretation, which  may  one  day  throw  further  light  upon  the 
point.  Under  such  circumstances,  therefore,  it  is  as  impolitic 
as  it  is  unscientific  to  identify  Christian  apology  with  a 
position  which  may  one  day  prove  untenable.  Attention  has 
already  been  called  to  a  similar  imprudence  in  connection 
with  Biogenesis,  and  the  history  of  past  apology  is  full  of 
warnings  against  such  conduct.  Then,  again,  there  is  the 
converse  view  which  is  often  as  glibly  stated  as  if  it  were  al- 
ready a  scientific  truism  ;  the  view  that  religion  was  evolved 
out  of  non-religious  elements,  such  as  the  appearance  of  dead 
ancestors  in  dreams.  This  rests,  to  begin  with,  on  the  sup- 
position that  the  opinions  of  uncivilized  man,  as  we  now  find 
him,  are  the  nearest  to  those  of  man  in  his  primitive 
condition ;  which,  considering  that  degradation  is  a  re- 
cognised factor  in  history,  and  that  degradation  acts  more 
powerfully  in  religion  than  in  any  other  region,  is  a  very 
considerable  assumption.  But  even  granting  this,  the  psy- 
chological possibility  of  the  process  in  question,  as  well  as 
the  lapse  of  time  sufficient  for  its  operation,  are  both  as  yet 
unproved.  It  is  an  hypothetical  process,  happening  in 
an  hypothetical  period  ;  but,  logically  considered,  nothing 


All  this  should  make  us  cautious  in  approaching  the  com- 
parative study  of  religions.  Still,  even  in  its  present  stage,  it 
has  reached  some  general  results.  In  the  first  place,  the 
universality  of  religion  is  established  as  an  empirical  fact. 
Man,  with  a  few  insignificant  exceptions  which  may  fairly 
be  put  down  to  degradation,  within  the  limits  of  our  observa- 
tion, is  everywhere  religious.  The  notion  that  religion  was 
an  invention  of  interested  priestcraft  has  vanished,  like  many 
other  eighteenth  century  fictions,  before  nineteenth  century 
science.  Even  in  the  savage  races,  where  priestcraft  is  most 

204  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

conspicuous,  the  priest  has  never  created  the  religion,  but  al- 
ways the  religion  the  priest.  Beyond  this  fact  it  is  unsafe  to 
dogmatize.  There  is  abundant  evidence  of  early  nature-wor- 
ship in  very  various  forms,  but  whether  this  was  the  degraded 
offspring  of  purer  conceptions,  or  as  is  more  generally  supposed 
the  primitive  parent  from  which  those  conceptions  sprang,  is 
still  an  open  question.  The  universality  of  the  fact  is  all 
that  is  certain. 

Again,  there  is  a  progressive  tendency  observable  in  the 
religions  of  the  world  ;  but  the  progress  is  of  a  particular  kind, 
and  largely  counteracted  by  degeneracy.  Individuals  elevate, 
masses  degrade  religion.  There  is  no  progress  by  insensible 
modifications ;  no  improvement  of  a  religion  in  committee. 
Councils  like  those  of  Asoka  or  Chosroes  can  only  sift  and 
popularise  and  publish  what  it  needed  a  Buddha  or  Zara- 
thustra  to  create.  And  so  religion  is  handed  on,  from  one 
great  teacher  to  another,  never  rising  above  the  level  of  its 
founder  or  last  reformer,  till  another  founder  or  reformer 
comes  ;  while  in  the  interval  it  is  materialized,  vulgarized, 

And  from  the  nature  of  this  progress,  as  the  work  of  great 
individuals,  another  consequence  has  historically  followed ;  viz. 
that  all  the  pre-Christian  religions  have  been  partial,  have 
emphasized,  that  is  to  say,  unduly  if  not  exclusively  one  re- 
quirement or  another  of  the  religious  consciousness,  but  never 
its  complex  whole.  For  the  individual  teacher,  however  great, 
cannot  proclaim  with  prophetic  intensity  more  than  one  aspect 
of  a  truth ;  and  his  followers  invariably  tend  to  isolate  and 
exaggerate  this  aspect,  while  any  who  attempt  to  supply  its 
complement  are  regarded  with  suspicion.  Hence  the  parties 
and  sects  and  heresies  of  which  religious  history  is  full.  The 
simplest  illustration  of  this  is  the  fundamental  distinction 
between  Theism  and  Pantheism,  or  the  transcendence  and 
immanence  of  God ;  the  one  often  said  to  be  a  Semitic,  the 
other  an  Aryan  tendency  of  thought.  But  however  this  may 
be,  both  these  principles  must  be  represented  in  any  system 
which  would  really  satisfy  the  whole  of  our  religious  instincts  ; 
while,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  they  were  separated  by  all  the  pro- 

v.      The  Incarnation  and  Development.       205 

Christian  religions,  and  are  separated  by  Mahometanism  and 
Buddhism,  the  only  two  religious  systems  which  compete  with 
Christianity  to-day. 

These,  then,  are  a  few  broad  results  of  our  comparative  survey 
of  religions.  That  religion,  however  humble  the  mode  of  its 
first  appearing,  is  yet  universal  to  man.  That  it  progresses 
through  the  agency  of  the  great  individual,  the  unique  person- 
ality, the  spiritual  genius ;  while  popular  influence  is  a  counter- 
agent  and  makes  for  its  decay.  That  its  various  develop- 
ments have  all  been  partial,  and  therefore  needed  completion, 
if  the  cravings  of  the  human  spirit  were  ever  to  be  set  at  rest. 

And  all  this  is  in  perfect  harmony  with  our  Christian 
belief  in  a  God  Who,  from  the  day  of  man's  first  appearance 
in  the  dim  twilight  of  the  world,  left  not  Himself  without 
witness  in  sun  and  moon,  and  rain  and  storm-cloud,  and  the 
courses  of  the  stars,  and  the  promptings  of  conscience,  and  the 
love  of  kin :  and  Who  the  while  was  lighting  every  man  that 
cometh  into  the  world,  the  primaeval  hunter,  the  shepherd 
chieftain,  the  poets  of  the  Vedas  and  the  Gathas,  the  Chaldaean 
astronomer,  the  Egyptian  priest,  each,  at  least  in  a  measure, 
to  spell  that  witness  out  aright ;  ever  and  anon  when  a  heart 
was  ready  revealing  Himself  with  greater  clearness,  to  one  or 
another  chosen  spirit,  and  by  their  means  to  other  men ;  till 
at  length,  in  the  fulness  of  time,  when  Jews  were  yearning 
for  one  in  whom  righteousness  should  triumph  visibly ;  and 
Greeks  sighing  over  the  divorce  between  truth  and  power, 
and  wondering  whether  the  wise  man  ever  would  indeed  be 
king ;  and  artists  and  ascetics  wandering  equally  astray,  in 
vain  attempt  to  solve  the  problem  of  the  spirit  and  the  flesh ; 
'  the  Word  was  made  Flesh  and  dwelt  among  us,  full  of  grace 
and  truth.'  The  pre-Christian  religions  were  the  age-long 
prayer.  The  Incarnation  was  the  answer.  Nor  are  we  tied 
to  any  particular  view  of  the  prehistoric  stages  of  this  develop- 
ment. We  only  postulate  that  whenever  and  however  man 
became  truly  man,  he  was  from  that  moment  religious,  or 
capable  of  religion ;  and  this  postulate  deals  with  the  region 
that  lies  beyond  the  reach  of  science,  though  all  scientific 
observation  is,  as  we  have  seen,  directly  in  its  favour. 

206  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

In  short,  the  history  of  the  pre-Christian  religion  is  like 
that  of  pre-Christian  philosophy,  a  long  preparation  for  the 
Gospel.  We  are  familiar  enough  with  this  thought  in  its 
Jewish  application  from  the  teaching  of  the  Epistle  to  the 
Hebrews.  But  it  seems  to  be  often  forgotten  that  the  princi- 
ples laid  down  in  that  Epistle  admit  of  no  limitation  to  any 
single  race  of  men.  They  are  naturally  illustrated  from 
Hebrew  history  in  a  writing  addressed  to  Hebrews.  But 
their  scope  is  universal.  They  compel  their  own  application 
to  every  religious  history,  which  the  growth  of  our  knowledge 
brings  to  light.  And  from  this  point  of  view  the  many  pagan 
adumbrations  of  Christian  doctrine,  similarities  of  practice, 
coincidences  of  ritual,  analogies  of  phrase  and  symbol,  fall 
naturally  into  place.  The  fathers  and  early  missionaries 
were  often  perplexed  by  these  phenomena,  and  did  not 
scruple  to  attribute  them  to  diabolic  imitation.  And  even 
in  the  present  day  they  are  capable  of  disturbing  timid 
minds,  when  unexpectedly  presented  before  them.  But  all 
this  is  unphilosophical,  for  in  the  light  of  evolution  the 
occurrence  of  such  analogies  is  a  thing  to  be  expected ;  while 
to  the  eye  of  faith  they  do  but  emphasize  the  claim  of 
Christianity  to  be  universal,  by  shewing  that  it  contains 
in  spiritual  summary  the  religious  thoughts  and  practices  and 
ways  of  prayer  and  worship,  not  of  one  people  only,  but  of  all 
the  races  of  men. 

'  In  the  whole  of  our  Christian  faith,'  says  Thomassin, '  there 
is  nothing  which  does  not  in  the  highest  degree  harmonize 
with  that  natural  philosophy  which  Wisdom,  who  made  all 
things,  infused  into  every  created  mind,  and  wrote  upon  the 
very  marrow  of  the  reason ;  so  that,  however  obscured  by  the 
foul  pleasures  of  the  senses,  it  never  can  be  wholly  done 
away.  It  was  this  hidden  and  intimate  love  of  the  human 
mind,  however  marred,  for  the  incorruptible  truth,  which 
won  the  whole  world  over  to  the  gospel  of  Christ,  when  once 
that  Gospel  was  proclaimed  V 

But  when  all  this  has  been  said,  there  is  a  lingering  sus- 
picion in  many  minds,  that  even  if  the  details  of  the  doctrine 
1  Thomassin,  Incarn.  L  15. 

v.     The  Incarnation  and  Development.       207 

of  development  are  not  inconsistent  with  Christianity,  its 
whole  drift  is  incompatible  with  any  system  of  opinion  which 
claims  to  possess  finality.  And  if  Christianity  were  only  a 
system  of  opinion,  the  objection  might  be  plausible  enough. 
But  its  claim  to  possess  finality  rests  upon  its  further  claim 
to  be  much  more  than  a  system  of  opinion.  The  doctrine  of 
development  or  evolution,  we  must  remember,  is  not  a  doc- 
trine of  limitless  change,  like  the  old  Greek  notion  of  per- 
petual flux.  Species  once  developed  are  seen  to  be  persistent, 
in  proportion  to  their  versatility,  their  power,  i.  e.  of  adapting 
themselves  to  the  changes  of  the  world  around  them.  And 
because  man,  through  his  mental  capacity,  possesses  this 
power  to  an  almost  unlimited  extent,  the  human  species  is 
virtually  permanent.  Now  in  scientific  language,  the  In- 
carnation may  be  said  to  have  introduced  a  new  species  into 
the  world — a  Divine  man  transcending  past  humanity,  as 
humanity  transcended  the  rest  of  the  animal  creation,  and 
communicating  His  vital  energy  by  a  spiritual  process  to 
subsequent  generations  of  men.  And  thus  viewed,  there  is 
nothing  unreasonable  in  the  claim  of  Christianity  to  be  at 
least  as  permanent  as  the  race  which  it  has  raised  to  a  higher 
power,  and  endued  with  a  novel  strength. 

III.  But  in  saying  this  we  touch  new  ground.  As  long  as 
we  confine  ourselves  to  speaking  of  the  Eternal  Word  as  ope- 
rating in  the  mysterious  region  which  lies  behind  phenomena, 
we  are  safe  it  may  be  said  from  refutation,  because  we  are 
dealing  with  the  unknown.  But  when  we  go  on  to  assert 
that  He  has  flashed  through  our  atmosphere,  and  been  seen 
of  men,  scintillating  signs  and  wonders  in  His  path,  we  are 
at  once  open  to  critical  attack.  And  this  brings  us  to  the 
real  point  at  issue  between  Christianity  and  its  modern 
opponents.  It  is  not  the  substantive  body  of  our  knowledge, 
but  the  critical  faculty  which  has  been  sharpened  in  its  ac- 
quisition that  really  comes  in  conflict  with  our  creed.  As- 
suming Christianity  to  be  true,  there  is,  as  we  have  seen, 
nothing  in  it  inconsistent  with  any  ascertained  scientific  fact. 
But  what  is  called  the  negative  criticism  assumes  that  it  can- 
not be  true,  because  the  miraculous  element  in  it  contradicts 

208  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

experience.  Still  criticism  is  a  very  different  thing  from 
science,  a  subjective  thing  into  which  imagination  and  per- 
sonal idiosyncrasy  enter  largely,  and  which  needs  therefore 
in  its  turn  to  be  rigorously  criticised.  And  the  statement 
that  Christianity  contradicts  experience  suggests  two  re- 
flections, in  Hmine. 

In  the  first  place  the  origin  of  all  things  is  mysterious, 
the  origin  of  matter,  the  origin  of  energy,  the  origin  of 
life,  the  origin  of  thought.  And  present  experience  is  no 
criterion  of  any  of  these  things.  What  were  their  birth 
throes,  what  were  their  accompanying  signs  and  wonders, 
when  the  morning  stars  sang  together  in  the  dawn  of  their 
appearing,  we  do  not  and  cannot  know.  If  therefore  the 
Incarnation  was,  as  Christians  believe,  another  instance  of  a 
new  beginning,  present  experience  will  neither  enable  us  to 
assert  ©r  deny,  what  its  attendant  circumstances  may  or  may 
not  have  been.  The  logical  impossibility  of  proving  a  nega- 
tive is  proverbial.  And  on  a  subject,  whose  conditions  are 
unknown  to  us,  the  very  attempt  becomes  ridiculous.  And 
secondly,  it  is  a  mistake  to  suppose  that  as  a  matter  of  strict 
evidence,  the  Christian  Church  has  ever  rested  its  claims 
upon  its  miracles.  A  confirmatory  factor  indeed,  in  a  compli- 
cation of  converging  arguments,  they  have  been,  and  still  are 
to  many  minds.  But  to  others,  who  in  the  present  day  are 
probably  the  larger  class,  it  is  not  so  easy  to  believe  Chris- 
tianity on  account  of  miracles,  as  miracles  on  account  of 
Christianity.  For  now,  as  ever,  the  real  burden  of  the  proof 
of  Christianity  is  to  be  sought  in  our  present  experience. 

There  is  a  fact  of  experience  as  old  as  history,  as  widely 
spread  as  is  the  human  race,  and  more  intensely,  irresistibly, 
importunately  real  than  all  the  gathered  experience  of  art 
and  policy  and  science, — the  fact  which  philosophers  call 
moral  evil,  and  Christians  sin.  It  rests  upon  no  questionable 
interpretation  of  an  Eastern  allegory.  We  breathe  it,  we 
feel  it,  we  commit  it,  we  see  its  havoc  all  around  us.  It  is  no 
dogma,  but  a  sad,  solemn,  inevitable  fact.  The  animal 
creation  has  a  law  of  its  being,  a  condition  of  its  perfection, 
which  it  instinctively  and  invariably  pursues.  Man  has  a 

v.      The  Incarnation  and  Development.        209 

law  of  his  being,  a  condition  of  his  perfection,  which  he 
instinctively  tends  to  disobey.  And  what  he  does  to-day, 
he  has  been  doing  from  the  first  record  of  his  existence. 

Video  meliora  proboque, 
Deteriora  sequor. 

Philosophers  have  from  time  to  time  attempted  to  explain 
this  dark  experience  away,  and  here  and  there  men  of  happy 
temperament,  living  among  calm  surroundings,  have  been 
comparatively  unconscious  of  the  evil  in  the  world.  But  the 
common  conscience  is  alike  unaffected  by  the  ingenuity  of 
the  one  class,  or  the  apathy  of  the  other ;  while  it  thrills  to 
the  voices  of  men  like  S.  Paul  or  S.  Augustine,  Dante  or  John 
Bunyan,  Loyola  or  Luther;  recognising  in  their  sighs  and 
tears  and  lamentations,  the  echo  of  its  own  unutterable 
sorrow  made  articulate.  Nor  is  sin  confined  to  one  depart- 
ment of  our  being.  It  poisons  the  very  springs  of  life,  and 
taints  its  every  action.  It  corrupts  art ;  it  hampers  science ; 
it  paralyses  the  efforts  of  the  politician  and  the  patriot ;  and 
diseased  bodies,  and  broken  hearts,  and  mental  and  spiritual 
agony,  are  amongst  its  daily,  its  hourly  results.  It  would 
seem  indeed  superfluous  to  insist  upon  these  things,  if  their 
importance  were  not  so  often  ignored  in  the  course  of  anti- 
Christian  argument.  But  when  we  are  met  by  an  appeal  to 
experience,  it  is  necessary  to  insist  that  no  element  of  ex- 
perience be  left  out. 

And  moral  evil,  independently  of  any  theory  of  its  nature 
or  its  origin,  is  a  plain  palpable  fact,  and  a  fact  of  such  stu- 
pendous magnitude  as  to  constitute  by  far  the  most  serious 
problem  of  our  life. 

Now  it  is  also  a  fact  of  present  experience  that  there  are 
scattered  throughout  Christendom,  men  of  every  age,  tem- 
perament, character,  and  antecedents,  for  whom  this  problem 
is  practically  solved:  men  who  have  a  personal  conviction 
that  their  own  past  sins  are  done  away  with,  and  the  whole 
grasp  of  evil  upon  them  loosened,  and  who  in  consequence 
rise  to  heights  of  character  and  conduct,  which  they  know 
that  they  would  never  have  otherwise  attained.  And  all  this 
they  agree  to  attribute,  in  however  varying  phrases,  to  the 


2io  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

personal  influence  upon  them  of  Jesus  Christ.  Further,  these 
men  had  a  spiritual  ancestry.  Others  in  the  last  generation 
believed  and  felt,  and  acted  as  they  now  act  and  feel  and 
believe.  And  so  their  lineage  can  be  traced  backward,  age 
by  age,  swelling  into  a  great  multitude  whom  no  man  can 
number,  till  we  come  to  the  historic  records  of  Him  whom 
they  all  look  back  to,  and  find  that  He  claimed  the  power  on 
earth  to  forgive  sins.  And  there  the  phenomenon  ceases. 
Pre-Christian  antiquity  contains  nothing  analogous  to  it. 
Consciousness  of  sin,  and  prayers  for  pardon,  and  purgatorial 
penances,  and  sacrifices,  and  incantations,  and  magic  formulae 
are  there  in  abundance ;  and  hopes,  among  certain  races,  of 
the  coming  of  a  great  deliverer.  But  never  the  same  sense  of 
sin  forgiven,  nor  the  consequent  rebound  of  the  enfranchised 
soul.  Yet  neither  a  code  of  morality  which  was  not  essen- 
tially new,  nor  the  example  of  a  life  receding  with  every  age 
into  a  dimmer  past,  would  have  been  adequate  to  produce  this 
result.  It  has  all  the  appearance  of  being,  what  it  historically 
has  claimed  to  be,  the  entrance  of  an  essentially  new  life  into 
the  world,  quickening  its  palsied  energies,  as  with  an  electric 
touch.  And  the  more  we  realize  in  the  bitterness  of  our  own 
experience,  or  that  of  others,  the  essential  malignity  of  moral 
evil,  the  more  strictly  supernatural  does  this  energy  appear. 
When,  therefore,  we  are  told  that  miracles  contradict  expe- 
rience, we  point  to  the  daily  occurrence  of  this  spiritual 
miracle  and  ask  '  whether  is  it  easier  to  say  thy  sins  be  forgiven 
thee,  or  to  say  arise  and  walk  ? '  We  meet  experience  with 
experience,  the  negative  experience  that  miracles  have  not 
happened  with  the  positive  experience  that  they  are  hap- 
pening now :  an  old  argument,  which  so  far  from  weakening, 
modern  science  has  immensely  strengthened,  by  its  insistence 
on  the  intimate  union  between  material  and  spiritual  things. 
For  spirit  and  matter,  as  we  call  them,  are  now  known  to  in- 
termingle, and  blend,  and  fringe  off,  and  fade  into  each  other, 
in  a  way  that  daily  justifies  us  more  in  our  belief  that 
the  possessor  of  the  key  to  one  must  be  the  possessor  of  the 
key  to  both,  and  that  He  who  can  save  the  soul  can  raise  the 

v.      The  Incarnation  and  Development.       2 1 1 

Here  then  is  our  answer  to  the  negative  criticism,  or  rather 
to  the  negative  hypothesis,  by  which  many  critics  are  misled. 
Of  course  we  do  not  expect  for  it  unanimous  assent.  It  is 
founded  on  a  specific  experience  ;  and  strangers  to  that  ex- 
perience are  naturally  unable  to  appreciate  its  force.  But 
neither  should  they  claim  to  judge  it.  For  the  critic  of  an 
experience  must  be  its  expert.  And  the  accumulated  verdict 
of  the  spiritual  experts  of  all  ages,  should  at  least  meet  with 
grave  respect  from  the  very  men  who  are  most  familiar  with 
the  importance  of  the  maxim,  '  Cuique  in  suaarte  credendum.' 
Christianity  distinctly  declines  to  be  proved  first,  and 
practised  afterwards.  Its  practice  and  its  proof  go  hand  in 
hand.  And  its  real  evidence  is  its  power. 

We  now  see  why  the  Atonement  has  often  assumed  such 
exclusive  prominence  in  the  minds  of  Christian  men.  They 
have  felt  that  it  was  the  secret  of  their  own  regenerate  life, 


their  best  intellectual  apology,  their  most  attractive  mission- 
ary appeal ;  and  so  have  come  to  think  that  the  other  aspects 
of  the  Incarnation  might  be  banished  from  the  pulpit  and  the 
market-place,  to  the  seclusion  of  the  schools.  But  this  has 
proved  to  be  a  fatal  mistake.  Truth  cannot  be  mutilated  with 
impunity.  And  this  gradual  substitution  of  a  detached  doc- 
trine for  a  catholic  creed,  has  led  directly  to  the  charge  which 
is  now  so  common,  that  Christianity  is  inadequate  to  life ; 
with  no  message  to  ordinary  men,  in  their  ordinary  moments, 
no  bearing  upon  the  aims,  occupations,  interests,  enthusiasms, 
amusements,  which  are  human  nature's  daily  food. 

But  we  have  already  seen  what  a  misconception  this  im- 
plies of  the  Incarnation.  The  Incarnation  opened  heaven,  for 
it  was  the  revelation  of  the  Word  ;  but  it  also  reconsecrated 
earth,  for  the  Word  was  made  Flesh  and  dwelt  among  us. 
And  it  is  impossible  to  read  history  without  feeling  how  pro- 
foundly the  religion  of  the  Incarnation  has  been  a  religion 
of  humanity.  The  human  body  itself,  which  heathendom 
had  so  degraded,  that  noble  minds  could  only  view  it  as  the 
enemy  and  prison  of  the  soul,  acquired  a  new  meaning,  ex- 
hibited new  graces,  shone  with  a  new  lustre  in  the  light  of 
the  Word  made  Flesh;  and  thence,  in  widening  circles,  the 

P  a 

212  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

family,  society,  the  state,  felt  in  their  turn  the  impulse  of  the 
Christian  spirit,  with  its 

touches  of  things  common, 
Till  they  rose  to  touch  the  spheres. 

Literature  revived  ;  art  flamed  into  fuller  life  ;  even  science 
in  its  early  days  owed  more  than  men  often  think,  to  the 
Christian  temper  and  the  Christian  reverence  for  things  once 
called  common  or  unclean.  While  the  optimism,  the  belief  in 
the  future,  the  atmosphere  of  hopefulness,  which  has  made 
our  progress  and  achievements  possible,  and  which,  when  all 
counter  currents  have  been  allowed  for,  so  deeply  differentiates 
the  modern  from  the  ancient  world,  dates,  as  a  fact  of  history, 
from  those  buoyant  days  of  the  early  church,  when  the  creed 
of  suicide  was  vanquished  before  the  creed  of  martyrdom, 
Seneca  before  S.  Paul.  It  is  true  that  secular  civilization  has 
co-operated  with  Christianity  to  produce  the  modern  world. 
But  secular  civilization  is,  as  we  have  seen,  in  the  Christian 
view,  nothing  less  than  the  providential  correlative  and 
counterpart  of  the  Incarnation.  For  the  Word  did  not  desert 
the  rest  of  His  creation  to  become  Incarnate.  Natural  religion, 
and  natural  morality,  and  the  natural  play  of  intellect  have 
their  function  in  the  Christian  as  they  had  in  the  pre-Christian 
ages ;  and  are  still  kindled  by  the  light  that  lighteth  every 
man  coming  into  the  world.  And  hence  it  is  that  secular 
thought  has  so  often  corrected  and  counteracted  the  evil  of  a 
Christianity  grown  professional,  and  false,  and  foul. 

Still,  when  all  allowance  for  other  influence  has  been  made ; 
and  all  the  ill  done  in  its  name  admitted  to  the  full ;  Chris- 
tianity remains,  the  only  power  which  has  regenerated 
personal  life,  and  that  beyond  the  circle  even  of  its  professed 
adherents,  the  light  of  it  far  outshining  the  lamp  which  has 
held  its  flame.  And  personal  life  is  after  all  the  battle-ground, 
on  which  the  progress  of  the  race  must  be  decided.  Nor  ever 
indeed  should  this  be  more  apparent  than  in  the  present  day. 
For  materialism,  that  old  enemy  alike  of  the  Christian  and  the 
human  cause,  has  passed  from  the  study  to  the  street.  No  one 
indeed  may  regret  this  more  than  the  high-souled  scientific 

v.     The  Incarnation  and  Development.       213 

thinker,  whose  life  belies  the  inevitable  consequences  of  his 
creed.  But  the  ruthless  logic  of  human  passion  is  drawing 
those  consequences  fiercely  ;  and  the  luxury  of  the  rich,  and 
the  communistic  cry  of  the  poor,  and  the  desecration  of 
marriage,  and  the  disintegration  of  society,  and  selfishness  in 
policy,  and  earthliness  in  art,  are  plausibly  pleading  science  in 
their  favour.  And  with  all  this  Christianity  claims,  as  of  old, 
to  cope,  because  it  is  the  religion  of  the  Incarnation.  For  the 
real  strength  of  materialism  lies  in  the  justice  which  it  does  to 
the  material  side  of  nature — the  loveliness  of  earth  and  sea 
and  sky  and  sun  and  star ;  the  wonder  of  the  mechanism  which 
controls  alike  the  rushing  comet  and  the  falling  leaf ;  the  human 
body  crowning  both,  at  once  earth's  fairest  flower  and  most 
marvellous  machine.  And  Christianity  is  the  only  religion 
which  does  equal  justice  to  this  truth,  while  precluding  its 
illegitimate  perversion.  It  includes  the  truth,  by  the  essential 
importance  which  it  assigns  to  the  human  body,  and  therefore 
to  the  whole  material  order,  with  which  that  body  is  so 
intimately  one ;  while  it  excludes  its  perversion,  by  shewing 
the  cause  of  that  importance  to  lie  in  its  connection,  communion, 
union  with  the  spirit,  and  consequent  capacity  for  endless 
degrees  of  glory. 

And  though  its  own  first  vocation  is  to  seek  and  save  souls 
one  by  one,  it  consecrates  in  passing  every  field  of  thought  and 
action,  wherein  the  quickened  energies  of  souls  may  find  their 
scope.  It  welcomes  the  discoveries  of  science,  as  ultimately 
due  to  Divine  revelation,  and  part  of  the  providential  educa- 
tion of  the  world.  It  recalls  to  art  the  days  when,  in  catacomb 
and  cloister,  she  learned  her  noblest  mission  to  be  the  service 
of  the  Word  made  Flesh.  It  appeals  to  democracy  as  the 
religion  of  the  fishermen  who  gathered  round  the  carpenter's 
Son.  It  points  the  social  reformer  to  the  pattern  of  a  perfect 
man,  laying  down  His  life  alike  for  enemy  and  friend.  While 
it  crowns  all  earthly  aims  with  a  hope  full  of  immortality,  as 
prophetic  of  eternal  occupations  otherwhere.  And  however 
many  a  new  meaning  may  yet  be  found  in  the  Incarnation, 
however  many  a  misconception  of  it  fade  before  fuller  light ; 
we  can  conceive  no  phase  of  progress  which  has  not  the 

214  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

Incarnation  for  its  guiding  star ;  no  age  which  cannot  make 
the  prayer  of  the  fifth  century  its  own — 

'O  God  of  unchangeable  power  and  eternal  light,  look 
favourably  on  Thy  whole  Church,  that  wonderful  and  sacred 
mystery;  and  by  the  tranquil  operation  of  Thy  perpetual 
Providence,  carry  out  the  work  of  man's  salvation ;  and  let 
the  whole  world  feel  and  see  that  things  which  were  cast  down 
are  being  raised  up,  and  things  which  had  grown  old  are  being 
made  new,  and  all  things  are  returning  to  perfection  through 
Him,  from  whom  they  took  their  origin,  even  through  our 
Lord  Jesus  Christ  V 

1  Gelasian,  quoted  by  Bright,  Ancient  Collects,  p.  98. 






I.  MANY  years  ago,  in  undergraduate  days,  I  was  speaking 
once  to  a  friend  of  my  hope  of  beginning  some  little  acquaint- 
ance with  Theology.  I  well  remember  the  air  of  nicely 
mingled  civility  and  conternptuousness,  with  which  my  friend, 
wishing  to  sympathize,  at  once  drew  a  distinction  for  me 
between  speculative  and  dogmatic  Theology,  and  assumed  that 
I  could  not  mean  that  the  mere  study  of  dogmatic  Theology 
could  have  any  sort  of  attractiveness.  I  do  not  think  that  I 
accepted  his  kindly  overture ;  but  it  certainly  made  me 
consider  more  than  once  afterwards,  whether  the  '  mere  study 
of  dogmatic  Theology'  could  after  all  be  so  slavish  and  pro- 
fitless an  employment  as  had  been  implied.  On  the  whole, 
however,  I  settled  with  myself  that  his  condemnation,  however 
obviously  candid  and  even  impressive,  must  nevertheless  re- 
main, so  far  as  I  was  concerned,  a  surprise  and  an  enigma. 
For  what,  after  all,  did  the  study  of  dogmatic  Theology  mean, 
but  the  study  of  those  truths  which  the  mind  of  Christ's 
Church  upon  earth  has  believed  to  be  at  once  the  most  certain 
and  the  most  important  truths  of  man's  history,  nature  and 
destiny,  in  this  world  and  for  ever  ? 

It  is  impossible,  however,  not  to  feel  that  my  friend,  in  his 
objection,  represented  what  was,  and  is,  a  very  widespread 
instinct  against  the  study  of  dogma.  Some  think,  for  instance, 
that  to  practical  men  exactnesses  of  doctrinal  statement,  even 
if  true,  are  immaterial.  Others  think  that  any  exactness  of 
doctrinal  statement  is  convicted,  by  its  mere  exactness,  of 
untruth  ;  for  that  knowledge  about  things  unseen  can  only 

2 1 8  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

be  indefinite  in  character.  If,  indeed,  religious  knowledge  is 
a  process  of  evolution  simply,  if  it  means  only  a  gradual 
development  towards  ever-increasing  definiteness  of  religious 
supposition,  then  no  doubt  its  exactness  may  be  the  condem- 
nation of  dogma.  But  then,  no  doubt,  to  make  room  for 
such  a  view,  the  whole  fact  of  historical  Christianity  must 
be  first  displaced. 

Is  it  put  as  an  impossibility,  that  there  cannot  be  any 
definite  or  certain  Theology  1  Can  there,  then,  be  a  Revelation  ? 
Can  there  be  an  Incarnation  ?  Those  only  are  consistent,  who 
assert  that  all  three  are  impossible,  and  who  understand  that 
in  so  doing  they  are  limiting  the  possibilities,  and  therefore 
pro  tanto  questioning  the  reality  of  a  Personal  God.  But  if 
there  be  a  Personal  God,  what  are  the  adequate  grounds  on 
which  it  is  nevertheless  laid  down  that  He  cannot  directly 
reveal  Himself?  Or,  if  He  can  reveal  Himself,  on  what 
ground  can  the  d  priori  assertion  rest,  that  theological  truth 
must  be  uncertain  or  indefinite  ?  The  Christian  Church  claims 
to  have  both  definite  and  certain  knowledge.  These  claims 
can  never  be  met  by  any  a  priori  judgment  that  such  know- 
ledge is  impossible.  Such  a  judgment  is  too  slenderly  based 
to  bear  the  weight  of  argument.  To  argue  from  it  would 
be  to  commit  the  very  fault  so  often  imputed  to  the  dogmatist. 
It  would  be  a  flagrant  instance  of  dogmatic  assertion  (and  that 
for  the  most  important  of  argumentative  purposes)  of  what 
we  could  not  possibly  know. 

The  claim  of  the  Church  to  knowledge  through  the  Incar- 
nation can  only  be  rationally  met,  and  only  really  answered, 
when  the  claim  itself,  and  its  evidence,  are  seriously  examined. 
Herein  lies,  and  will  always  lie,  the  heart  of  the  struggle  for 
or  against  the  dogmatic  character  of  the  Church.  Anything 
else  is  only  the  fringe  of  the  matter.  Any  rebutting  of  a 
priori  presumptions  against  dogma  is  a  mere  clearing  of  the 
way  for  battle.  Thus  it  is  said,  perhaps,  that  the  objection  is 
to  the  degree  of  definiteness,  or  to  the  tone  of  authority.  It 
is  fancied  that  dogma  in  its  very  nature,  quite  apart  from  its 
contents,  is  a  curtailment  of  the  rights,  and  a  limitation  of  the 
powers,  of  mind.  Is  dogma,  the  most  definite  and  authori- 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     2 1 9 

tative,  fettering  to  the  freedom  of  intellect  ?  We  can  see  in  a 
moment  the  entire  unreality  of  the  objection,  by  simply 
substituting  for  it  another  question.  Is  truth  fettering  to 
intellect  ?  Does  the  utmost  certitude  of  truth  limit  freedom  of 
mind1?  Because,  if  not,  dogma,  so  far  as  it  coincides  with 
truth,  cannot  fetter  either.  If  perfect  knowledge  of  truth 
could  paralyse  the  intellect,  what  (it  is  worth  while  to  ask) 
do  we  mean  by  intellect  ?  Do  we  mean  something  which 
must  for  ever  be  struggling  with  difficulties  which  it  cannot 
overcome  ?  Is  it  necessary  for  the  idea  of  mind  that  it  should 
be  baffled "?  Is  it  a  creature  only  of  the  tangle  and  the  fog  ? 
And  if  ever  the  day  should  come,  when  after  struggling,  more 
or  less  ineffectually,  with  the  tangle  and  the  fog,  man  should 
emerge  at  last  in  clear  sunshine  upon  the  mountain  top,  will 
mind  cease  to  have  any  faculty  or  place,  because  the  know- 
ledge of  truth  has  come  ?  At  least,  if  we  understand  this  to 
be  the  conception  of  mind,  it  need  not  frighten  us  quite  so 
much  as  it  did,  to  be  told  that  dogma  interferes  with  mind. 
But  if,  however  different  from  our  experience  the  employment 
of  mind  would  be  in  the  presence  of  perfect  knowledge,  we 
cannot  so  conceive  of  mind  as  to  admit  that  truth  could 
possibly  be  its  enemy  or  its  destruction,  then  we  may  cer- 
tainly insist  that  no  amount  of  dogma,  so  far  as  it  is  true, 
can  limit  or  fetter  the  freedom  of  intellect.  But  then  we  are 
at  once  thrown  back  upon  the  question  ;  is  the  dogmatic 
teaching  of  the  Church  true  ?  No  statement  which  absolutely 
coincides  with  truth  can  hurt  the  freedom  of  mind.  But 
mistaken  presumption  of  truth  can,  and  does,  limit  it ;  and 
so  does  authority,  if  it  prevents  the  examination  of  truth. 
Dogma,  then,  is,  as  dogma,  a  wrong  to  mind,  just  so  far  as  it 
can  be  convicted  of  either  of  these  things  ;  so  far  as  it  forbids 
examination,  or  so  far  as  it  asserts  what  is  not  strictly  true. 

As  to  the  first  of  these  two  suggestions  against  dogma,  it  is 
quite  enough  simply  to  deny  it.  The  Church,  as  a  teacher  of 
dogmatic  truth,  does  not  forbid  the  freest  and  completest 
inquiry  into  the  truths  which  she  enunciates.  The  question 
is  not  whether  dogmatic  theologians  have  ever  dreaded  in- 
quiry into  truth  ;  but  whether  the  dogmatic  Church,  as  such, 

22O  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

precludes  or  forbids  it.  True,  she  enunciates  some  truths  as 
true ;  and  holds  those,  in  different  measures,  unwise  and 
wrong,  who  contradict  her  truths.  But  she  does  not.  therefore, 
forbid  the  fullest  exercise  of  intellect  upon  them  ;  nor  tremble 
lest  intellect,  rightly  wielded,  should  contradict  them.  Indeed 
for  eighteen  centuries  she  has  been  engaged,  and  will  be 
engaged  to  the  end,  in  examining  with  a  power  and  discipline 
of  intellect,  which  she  alone  ever  has,  or  could  have,  evoked, 
into  the  meaning  and  exactness  of  her  own  knowledge.  But 

o  o 

she  does  warn  inquirers  that  successful  inquiry  into  her  truths 
is  no  work  of  merely  ingenious  disputation,  but  needs  the 
exactest  discipline  and  balance  of  all  the  faculties  of  our 
human  nature. 

We  return,  then,  to  the  second  suggestion ;  and  I  repeat 
that  the  question  has  for  us  become,  not  whether  dogma  in 
the  abstract  is  desirable  or  undesirable,  but  whether  the 
dogmas  of  the  Christian  Church  are  true  or  not  true.  Dogma 
that  is  true  can  only  be  undesirable  in  so  far  as  truth  is  un- 

Whether  the  dogmas  of  the  Church  are  true  or  not  true,  is 
itself  a  question  of  evidence. 

Before,  however,  making  any  remark  upon  the  nature  of 
this  evidence  in  the  case  of  religion,  we  may  remember  that 
the  possession  of  dogma  is  in  no  way  peculiar  to  religion. 
There  is  no  region  of  research  or  knowledge  which  does  not 
present  to  the  student  its  own  '  dogmata,'  or  truths  ascertained 
and  agreed  upon ;  nor  does  any  one,  in  the  name  of  freedom  of 
intellect,  persist  in  treating  these  always  as  open  questions. 

But  perhaps  if  we  venture  thus  to  claim  the  ascertained 
truths  of  any  science  as  dogmas,  the  scientific  answer  will  be 
ready.  They  differ,  it  will  be  felt,  from  the  nature  of  religious 
dogmas,  in  two  important  respects.  The  first  difference  is, 
that  they  are  offered  for  acceptance  with  their  full  proofs,  from 
the  first  moment  that  they  are  offered  at  all.  The  student 
could  not,  it  may  be,  have  discovered  for  himself  the  law  of 
gravitation,  or  the  circulation  of  the  blood;  but  he  can,  when 
these  discoveries  are  once  set  before  him  by  another,  see  forth- 
with not  only  the  coherency  of  the  principles,  but  the  cogency 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     221 

of  their  proof.  The  second  difference  is,  that  when  they  have 
been  accepted  by  the  student,  proof  and  all,  they  still  claim 
no  allegiance  beyond  what  his  intelligence  cannot  but  freely 
give ;  he  is  still  free  to  supersede  or  upset  them,  if  he  can. 
He  accepts  them  indeed  provisionally,  as  identical  with  the 
truth  so  far  as  the  truth  on  the  subject  is  yet  known  ;  yet  not 
necessarily  as  final  truth.  He  accepts  them  as  truths  which 
all  his  further  study  will  comment  upon  ;  presumably  indeed 
in  the  way  of  continual  illustration  and  corroboration, — so 
that  what  he  accepts  for  study  will  be  more  and  more  cer- 
tainly proved  by  the  study — but  also,  if  you  please,  in  the 
way  of  correction ;  for  if  his  study  can  supersede,  or  even 
in  any  measure  correct  or  alter  them, — why,  so  much  the 
better  both  for  science  and  for  him !  Why  should  not  this  be 
equally  true  of  Theology1?  Why  should  religious  dogmas  be 
received  without  these  conditions,  as  certainly  and  finally 
true  1 

To  begin  with,  then,  some  exception  may  be  taken  to  the 
statement  that  the  student  who  accepts  a  scientific  doctrine, 
has  the  full  evidence  before  him  from  the  beginning.  That  it 
is  not  altogether  so  is  evident  from  the  simple  consideration, 
just  mentioned,  that  his  work  is  a  progressive  one ;  and  that 
the  whole  course  of  his  experience  tends,  and  will  tend,  to 
deepen  the  certainty  of  his  first  principles.  But  in  so  far  as 
the  proof  of  any  leading  principle  is  being  deepened  and 
strengthened  by  the  student's  daily  work,  so  far  it  is  clear 
that  the  amount  of  certainty  about  his  principles  with  which 
at  first  he  began,  must  be  less  than  that  with  which  he  ends 

o        * 

at  last ;  and  therefore  that  the  proof  presented  to  him  at  the 
beginning,  however  much  it  may  have  been  adequate  to  the 
purpose,  (even  though  it  may  have  been  the  completest  proof 
capable  of  being  presented  in  the  way  of  exposition  from  the 
lip  to  the  ear)  was  nevertheless  most  incomplete  in  comparison 
with  the  fulness  of  attainable  proof.  And  further,  it  may 
certainly  be  said  also,  that  in  the  convincingness  of  this 
evidence  as  at  first  presented,  authority,  whether  more  or 
less,  had  an  undoubted  part.  At  the  very  least  it  had  a 
negative  place,  as  a  guarantee  to  the  young  mind  rejoicing 

222  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

in  the  ingenuity  of  the  apparent  demonstration,  that  the 
apparent  demonstration  was  not  vitiated  by  some  unseen 
fallacy,  or  that  there  was  not  a  series  of  other  consider- 
ations behind,  which  would  rob  the  lesson  just  learnt 
of  its  practical  usefulness.  Often,  indeed,  the  degree  of 
authority  in  the  first  scientific  convictions  would  be  very 
much  higher.  Often,  however  helpful  the  arguments  or 
illustrations  of  a  principle  may  seem,  the  really  overruling 
consideration  will  at  first  be  this,  that  the  whole  scientific 
world  has  absolutely  accepted  the  principle  as  truth.  So  much 
is  this  the  case,  that  if  an  average  student  should  find  himself 
unable  in  any  point  to  receive  the  ascertained  truths  of  his 
science  with  intelligent  agreement,  he  would  not  hesitate  to 
assume  that  the  whole  fault  lay  with  himself;  he  would  really 
be  convinced  in  his  soul  that  the  dicta  of  his  scientific  teachers 
were  right,  and  that  he  himself  would  see  the  certainty  of 
them  by  and  by. 

Now  in  both  these  two  respects  the  acceptance  of  religious 
dogma  is  not  essentially  in  contrast,  but  rather  is  parallel,  with 
that  of  scientific  principles.  For  religious  truth  is  neither  in 
its  first  acceptance  a  mere  matter  of  blind  submission  to 
authority,  nor  is  it  stagnant  and  unprogressive  after  it  is 
accepted.  However  different  in  other  ways  the  leading  truths 
of  the  Creed  may  be  from  scientific  principles  ;  in  this  respect 
at  least  they  are  not  different, — that  not  one  of  them  is  ever 
brought  for  the  acceptance  of  men  without  some  really  in- 
telligent evidence  and  ground  for  acceptance.  If  any  man  is 
asked  to  accept  them,  without  any  intelligent  ground  for  the 
acceptance,  we  may  be  bold  perhaps  to  assert  that  it  would  be 
his  duty  to  refuse.  Of  course,  however,  authority  will  itself 
be  a  large  part  of  his  intelligent  ground ;  a  larger  part  or  a 
smaller  according  to  circumstances.  But  then  there  is  no 
proper  antithesis  between  believing  in  deference  to  authority, 
and  believing  in  deference  to  reason,  unless  it  is  understood 
that  the  authority  believed  in  was  accepted  at  first  as  authority 
'without  reason,  or  maintained  in  spite  of  the  subsequent  re- 
fusal of  reason  to  give  confirmatory  witness  to  its  assertions. 
Even  in  the  cases  in  which  there  seems  to  be  least  use  of 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.    223 

reason,  the  case  of  a  young  child  learning  at  his  mother's  knee, 
or  of  a  man  whose  spirit  has  suffered  and  been  broken,  and 
who  gives  himself  up  at  last  to  the  mere  guidance  of  a  friend 
or  a  teacher,  the  authority,  when  accepted  at  all,  is  accepted 
on  grounds  essentially  reasonable.  The  child's  reasoning  may 
differ  in  quality  from  the  prodigal's ;  but  the  child  trusts 
father  or  mother  on  grounds  which  are  wholly,  if  uncon- 
sciously, a  product  of  the  strictest  reason ;  and  the  prodigal 
has  felt  in  his  inmost  soul  alike  the  deadness  of  his  own 
spiritual  being,  and  the  power  and  the  beauty  which  are  in 
the  life  of  the  teacher  upon  whom  he  throws  himself.  And 
this  is  not  the  only  point ;  for  the  reasonable  mind  in  one  is 
not  a  thing  different  in  nature  from  the  reasonable  mind  in 
another,  or  from  the  eternal  reason  which  is  in  God.  The 
truths,  therefore,  which  we  are  taught  about  God,  and  man, 
and  Christ,  about  sin,  and  redemption  from  sin,  and  the  heaven 
of  holiness,  and  which  seem  to  be  accepted  as  a  mere  act  of 
not  unreasonable  dutifulness,  do  reasonably  withal  commend 
themselves,  in  some  shape  or  measure,  even  to  the  callow 
mind  from  its  earliest  immaturity.  There  is  that  in  the  very 
consciousness  of  child,  or  of  criminal,  with  which  they  are  in 
essential  harmony.  That  in  him  with  which  they  are  in 
essential  correspondence  bears  witness  of  them.  Nor  is  any- 
one, in  his  acceptance  of  them,  wholly  insensible  of  this 
witness  to  their  truth,  which  is,  in  fact,  engraven  upon  his 
own  conscious  being. 

To  '  take  religion  on  trust,'  then,  as  it  is  sometimes  de- 
risively called,  is  not  really  to  act  in  defiance  of,  or  apart  from, 
reason.  It  is  an  exercise  of  reason  up  to  a  certain  point, — 
just  so,  and  so  far  as,  the  experience  of  the  person  warrants. 
He  sees  what  to  trust,  and  why.  He  sees  where  understanding 
and  experience  which  transcend  his  own  would  point.  And 
he  seeks  for  the  rational  test  of  further  experience  in  the  only 
way  in  which  it  can  be  had.  He  defers  to  the  voice  of  ex- 
perience, in  faith  that  his  own  experience  will  by  and  by 
prove  its  truthfulness.  On  a  medical  question,  men  would 
not  dispute,  they  would  loudly  proclaim,  the  reasonableness 
and  wisdom  of  such  a  course.  Yet  there  are  those  who  sup- 

224  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

pose  that  the  truths  of  religion  are  to  admit  of  a  complete 
preliminary  intellectual  verification,  a  verification  apart  from 
special  training  and  experience,  such  as  they  might  more 
reasonably  expect  in  any  other  subject-matter  than  religion, 
but  such  as,  in  fact,  they  hardly  expect  elsewhere. 

The  doctrines  of  the  Church,  then,  accepted  at  first  on 
reasonable  evidence,  which  in  a  greater  or  less  degree,  but  per- 
haps never  wholly,  consists  in  authority  reasonably  accepted  as 
authority,  are  then  in  all  the  experience  of  spiritual  life  re- 
ceiving continual  comment,  explanation,  corroboration.  The 
whole  experience  of  Christian  life  must  be  a  growth  in  the 
apprehension  and  certainty  of  Christian  truth.  A  Christian 
neophyte  may  believe  every  word  of  his  Creed,  and  believe 
neither  ignorantly  nor  unintelligently.  But  the  veteran 
Christian  of  four-score  will  transcend  the  child  at  least  as 
much  in  the  degree  of  certainty,  with  which  the  doctrines  of 
the  Church  are  to  his  entire  faculties  mental,  moral,  and 
spiritual,  proved  and  known  to  be  true,  as  he  can  possibly  do 
in  his  merely  intellectual  apprehension  of  the  history  or 
meaning  of  the  words.  We  may  say,  indeed,  that  the  life  of  a 
professing  Christian  which  is  not  a  life  of  growth  in  the  ap- 
prehension of  doctrinal  truth,  must  necessarily  be  a  retro- 
gression; just  as  the  life  of  so-called  scientific  study,  which  is 
not  continually  illuminating  afresh,  and  deepening  the  cer- 
tainty of  its  own  scientific  principles,  must  gradually  come  to 
hold  even  its  own  scientific  principles  less  and  less  certainly, 
and  to  mean  by  them  less  and  less. 

But  even  if  it  may  be  shewn  that  there  is  not  quite  so 
essential  a  contrast  as  there  seemed  to  be,  between  the  charac- 
ter of  theological  and  scientific  dogmas,  by  reason  of  the  proofs 
which  are  offered,  along  with  his  principles,  to  the  student  of 
any  science  ;  yet  still  it  will  be  felt  that  they  differ  essentially 
in  the  tone  and  manner  with  which  they  respectively  speak  to 
intellect.  The  truths  of  the  one  claim  at  once  to  possess  an 
intellectual  finality,  and  to  command  a  moral  allegiance,  which 
the  truths  of  the  other  do  not. 

It  may  be  worth  while  to  say  in  reply,  first  of  all,  that  there 
cannot  be  a  real  contrast  of  finality  between  them,  so  far  as 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.      225 

they  are  both  really  true.  What  is  really  true  is  really  true. 
Neither  '  absolutely,'  '  finally,'  nor  any  other  adverb  in  the 
language  will  make  the  statement  a  stronger  one.  What  we 
call  scientific  truths  are  not  in  fact  liable  to  correction,  except 
in  so  far  as  they  may  perhaps,  after  all,  not  be  quite  scientific 
truths,  except  (that  is)  in  respect  of  such  admixture  of 
erroneous  supposition,  as  still  has  clung  to  them  after  general 
acceptance.  And  on  the  other  hand,  so  far  as  any  mistaken 
assumptions  are  mixed  up  with  our  apprehension  of  religious 
truths,  so  far  these  too  are  liable  to  receive,  and  in  the  history 
of  Church  doctrine  are  continually  receiving,  correction.  It 
is,  after  all,  a  truism.  In  either  sphere  the  truths,  so  far  as 
they  really  are  truths,  are  true  absolutely :  but  are  corrigible 
in  so  far  as  our  statement  of  them  still  contains  anything  that 
is  other  than  truth.  We  may  put  it,  perhaps,  in  another  way 
still.  If,  to  assume  an  impossible  hypothesis,  any  one  could 
really  prove,  not  merely  that  there  were  some  exaggerations 
or  misconceptions  in  the  traditional  mode  of  statement  of  some 
doctrinal  truths,  but  that  our  really  essential  Faith  was  wrong, 
we  may  grant  hypothetically  (seeing  that  truth  is  supreme) 
that  he  would  do  us  all  a  mighty  service,  at  however  tre- 
mendous a  cost.  Similarly  of  course  it  must  be  owned,  that 
if  any  one  could  prove  the  earth  to  be  flat  and  stationary,  and 
the  law  of  gravitation  to  be  the  precise  contradictory  of  truth, 
he  would  do  immense  service  to  science.  But  none  the  less, 
the  scientific  certainty  on  these  points  is  so  complete,  that  if 
anyone  seriously  assailed  them,  it  would  be  felt  that  he 
could  only  be  dealing  with  the  evidence  in  a  way  which 
tended  to  compromise  the  credit  of  his  own  reason ;  and  he 
would  therefore  be  reasonably  held  to  be,  as  it  is  roughly 
phrased,  a  fool  or  a  madman.  And  we  must  claim  that  for  us 
the  certainty  of  some  theological  propositions  is  so  complete, 
that  when  anyone  assails  them,  we  are  no  less  reasonable  in 
regarding  him  with  concern,  rather  for  his  own  truth's  sake 
than  for  the  truth  of  our  religion  ;  and  that,  if  miracles  or  '  an 
angel  from  heaven '  should  seem  to  bear  witness  for  him,  it 
would  still  be  no  bigotry,  but  in  the  strictest  sense  our 
reasonable  course,  to  refuse  the  witness,  and  to  treat  it  as 


226  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

merely  an  attempt  to  ensnare  us  into  falsehood  to  the  real 
requirements  of  our  reason  and  conscience. 

Is  the  conclusion,  then,  that  there  is  after  all  no  difference 
at  all  between  the  truths  of  Theology  and  of  Science,  in  respect 
of  their  claim  to  authority  1  On  the  contrary,  there  remains 
a  perfectly  real  contrast  of  authority  between  them ;  only  it 
is  to  be  looked  for  elsewhere  than  among  the  conditions  upon 
which  our  belief  in  them  respectively  is  based. 

There  are  two  distinct  senses  in  which  the  doctrines  of  the 
Creed  may  be  said  to  be  authoritative.  It  may  be  meant  that 
the  authoritativeness  is  in  the  manner  in  which  they  are  pre- 
sented to  us  ;  that  is  to  say,  that  (whatever  their  content  may 
be)  they  are  statements  which  we  believe,  and  are  to  believe, 
on  the  sole  ground  that  we  are  told  to  do  so,  without  any 
appeal  to  reason  of  our  own  ;  or  it  may  be  meant  that  they  are 
statements  whose  content  is  of  such  nature  and  inherent  im- 
portance, that  we  cannot,  in  fact,  believe  them,  without  thereby 
necessarily  being  involved  in  a  train  of  consequential  obliga- 
tions of  thought  and  life.  In  this  latter  case  the  authori- 
tativeness lies  not  in  the  manner  of  their  presentation  to  us 
or  our  acceptance  of  them,  but  in  that  which  is  involved  in 
the  nature  of  the  truths  themselves,  if  and  when  they  are  be- 

Is  it  true  to  say  of  the  Creeds  that  they  are  '  authoritative  ' 
in  the  former  sense?  that  is  to  say  that  they  challenge  our 
allegiance,  and  we  are  bound  to  believe  them,  because  we  are 
told  that  they  are  true,  without  examination  on  our  part,  and 
without  reason?  It  has  indeed  been  stated  already  that,  as 
between  pupils  and  teachers,  there  is  in  religious  learning,  as 
there  is  in  all  human  learning  whatever,  scientific  or  otherwise, 
a  certain  legitimate  and  important  field  for  authority  reason- 
ably accepted  as  authority,  that  is,  the  authority  of  men  more 
learned  and  experienced  than  ourselves.  Even  this,  of  course, 
means  that  the  pupil  believes  the  things  taught  to  be  strictly 
rational  to  the  teacher,  though  they  be  not  so,  as  yet,  to  him- 
self. But  is  it  true,  in  speaking  of  religion,  to  carry  this  one 
step  further ;  and  to  say  that  in  this  sphere  our  whole  belief, 
and  duty  of  belief,  rests  upon  authority  as  its  ultimate  found- 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     227 

ation,  the  authority  not  of  man's  experience,  but  of  God's 
command  ?  It  must,  no  doubt,  be  freely  owned  on  all  sides, 
that  if  there  be  a  creed  commanded  of  God,  we  certainly  are 
bound  to  believe  it.  But  is  there  ?  or  when,  or  how,  was  it 
commanded  ?  Does  anyone  answer,  through  our  Lord  Jesus 
Christ  ?  or  through  His  Church  ?  or  through  the  Bible  ?  But 
who  is  He  ?  or  what  is  the  Bible  ?  or  how  do  we  know  ?  To 
accept  doctrines,  which  we  otherwise  should  not  accept,  be- 
cause we  are  told  to  do  so,  without  knowing  first  who  told  us, 
or  why  we  should  believe  him,  is  simply  not  a  reasonable 
possibility.  But  to  ask  these  questions  and  to  have  answers 
to  them,  and  believe  because  we  are  satisfied  in  some  way  as 
to  the  answers  to  them,  is  certainly  not  to  rest  the  act  of  be- 
lieving on  a  foundation  of  mere  authority  :  essentially  rather 
it  is,  to  go  over  part  of  the  ground  of  the  Creed  first,  and  be 
satisfied  as  to  the  correctness  of  its  main  substance,  and  there- 
fore to  believe  it.  A  Christian  will  not  deny  that  the  doctrines 
of  the  Creed  are  entitled  in  fact  to  be  held  as  authoritative,  in 
both  of  the  senses  distinguished  above.  But  we  cannot  be- 
lieve them  on  God's  authority  till  we  have  first  believed  in 
the  authority  of  God.  And,  therefore,  their  authoritativeness 
in  what  we  have  called  the  first  sense  is  not  really  the  ultimate 
ground  of  our  accepting  them  :  for  it  is  not  itself  accepted  and 
apprehended  by  us,  except  as  a  consequence  of  our  first  be- 
lieving that  which  is  the  main  substance  of  the  Creed.  It  may 
be  the  warrant  to  us  of  this  or  that  detail  considered  apart : 
but  it  is  not,  and  cannot  ever  be,  the  original  and  sufficient 
cause  of  our  believing  the  whole.  Credo  ut  intelligam  may 
be  the  most  true  and  most  reasonable  motto  of  the  large  part 
of  Christian  faith  and  life  :  but  it  is  not  inconsistent  with — it 
is  founded  upon — an  ultimate  underlying  intellexi  ut  crederem. 
There  is,  then,  a  real  and  abiding  difference  between  theo- 
logical and  scientific  dogmas,  in  respect  of  the  authority 
with  which  they  speak  to  us.  But  the  difference  is  one 
which  does  not  affect  at  all  the  method  or  grounds  of  our 
original  belief  in  them  respectively:  it  is  to  be  found  ex- 
clusively in  the  different  subject-matter  of  the  two  when 


228  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

And  herein,  also,  it  is  that  we  find  the  real  answer  to  the 
other  form  of  question,  viz.,  why  should  Theology  claim  to 
be  so  much  more  final  than  science  ?  Much  as  science  has 
conquered  of  the  realm  of  truth,  it  does  not  profess  to  have 
conquered  more  than  a  little.  Of  the  vast  residuum  it 
says  nothing.  It  has  no  idea  how  small  a  proportion 
its  present  knowledge  may  bear  to  that  which  will  one  day 
be  known.  Nay,  the  further  it  advances  in  knowledge  of 
truth,  so  much  the  smaller  a  proportion  does  its  realized 
truth  seem  to  it  to  bear  to  that  which  remains  unexplored. 
Why  should  the  theologian  be  less  patient  of  additions  to 
theological  knowledge,  such  as  may  some  day  throw  all  his 
present  creeds  into  comparative  obscurity  1  Why  should  the 
Christian  Creed  be  fixed  and  inexpansive "?  The  question  is 
formidable  only  in  an  abstract  form.  The  reasonable  answer 
to  it  confronts  us  the  moment  we  consider  what  is  the  subject- 
matter  of  the  Creed.  Scientific  principles  are  in  their  very 
nature  fragments  of  a  truth  which  is  practically  infinite.  But 
the  Christian  Creed,  if  true  at  all,  cannot  possibly  be  a  fragment 
of  truth.  For  the  Christian  Creed  does  not  simply  enunciate 
so  many  abstract  principles  of  natural  or  supernatural  life 
or  governance.  It  introduces  us  straight  to  a  supreme  Person, 
Himself  the  beginning  and  end,  the  author  and  upholder  of 
all.  Such  a  doctrine  may  be  false ;  but  it  cannot  be  a  frag- 
ment. The  child  who  believes  in  God,  believes  in  every- 
thing, though  he  knows  hardly  anything.  He  has  infinitely 
more  yet  to  learn,  as  to  what  his  own  belief  means.  But  he 
has  nothing  to  add  to  it.  The  perfect  knowledge  of  the 
universe  would  not  add  to  it,  but  would  only  explain  it. 
It  is,  then,  by  virtue  of  his  personal  relation  to  a  Personality 
which  is  Itself  supreme  and  all  inclusive,  that  he  is  guilty  of 
no  presumption,  even  though  in  the  face  of  the  modest  dis- 
avowals of  scientific  men,  he  must  maintain  that  his  own 
creed  is,  in  its  proper  nature,  even  when  all  admissions  have 
been  made,  rather  a  complete  and  conclusive,  than  a  partial  or 
a  tentative,  statement  of  truth.  But  this  difference  between 
him  and  them  is  the  result  neither  of  any  arrogance  in  his 
temper,  nor  any  lack  in  his  logic,  but  it  follows  necessarily 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     229 

from  the  nature  of  the  subject-matter  of  his  creed,  if  and 
when  it  is  believed. 

But  still  this  fact  that,  if  true,  they  are  truths  which  by 
the  obvious  necessity  of  their  subject-matter  speak  to  our 
intellects  and  consciences  with  a  tone  of  such  Divinely  com- 
manding authority,  ought  not  to  make  me  or  anyone  accept 
them  as  true,  unless  the  evidence  for  them  is  adequate.  The 
question  is  not  how  authoritative  they  would  be,  if  true  ; 
nor  how  important  or  inclusive  they  would  be,  if  true ;  nor 
is  any  amount  of  contingent  importance  or  authority  adequate 
evidence  for  their  truth,  but  only  a  motive  for  inquiring  into 
its  evidence.  The  question  is,  are  they  true  1  or  are  they  not 
true  ?  and  the  question  is  a  question  of  evidence. 

II.  And  now,  in  recurring  once  more  to  the  subject  of  the 
evidence  by  which  the  dogmas  of  religion  are  proved,  from 
which  we  diverged  just  now,  we  find,  in  respect  of  it,  a 
second  reality  of  contrast  between  theological  truths  and  the 
truths  of  material  science.  For  whilst  in  both  cases  equally 
we  depend  upon  evidence,  and  evidence  that  is  adequate ;  it 
does  not  follow  that  the  evidence  for  both  is  in  all  points 
similar  in  kind.  In  great  part  indeed  it  is  so ;  but  it  is 
certainly  not  so  altogether.  For  when  we  speak  of  the 
evidence  of  religious  truths,  it  is  to  be  remembered  that  the 
full  evidence  by  which  our  consciences  are  wholly  convinced 
of  them,  is  not  of  one  kind  only,  but  of  all  kinds.  The  facts 
of  religion  address  themselves  to  the  whole  nature  of  man ; 
and  it  is  only  by  the  whole  nature  of  man  that  they  can 
ever  be  fully  apprehended.  Man  is  not  a  being  of  intel- 
lectual conceptions  or  faculties  only.  And  because  he  is  not 
so,  therefore  no  set  of  principles  which  could  be  apprehended 
by  the  intellect  alone  (as  the  theorems  of  Euclid  may  appear 
to  be),  and  which  make  for  their  acceptance  no  demand  at 
all  upon  the  qualities  of  his  moral  or  spiritual  being,  could 
really  present,  as  religion  professes  to  present,  a  system  of 
truth  and  life  which  would  be  adequate  to  the  scope  of  his 
whole  nature.  It  is  undoubtedly  the  case  that  just  as  the 
truths  of  religion  account  for,  and  appeal  to,  his  whole  being, 
so  the  evidence  for  them  appeals  to  his  whole  being  also^ 

230  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

For  its  complete  appreciation  there  are  requirements  other 
than  intellectual.  There  must  be  not  only  certain  endow- 
ments of  mind,  but  the  life  of  a  moral  being.  There  must 
be  moral  affections,  moral  perceptions,  spiritual  affinities  and 
•satisfactions.  Even  if  the  primary  conviction  of  his  reason 
may  be  apart  from  these,  yet  of  the  fully  developed  evidence, 
which  is  the  real  possession  of  the  Christian  believer,  these 
are  a  most  important  and  necessary  part.  Without  these, 
his  certainty,  adequate  though  it  might  be,  would  be  far  less 
profound  than  it  is.  These  are  to  him  essential  ingredients 
in  the  richness  and  the  fulness  of  the  evidence  which  to  him 
is  everywhere.  Now  for  this  necessary  width  of  the  full 
confirmatory  evidence  of  religion,  it  is  impossible  for  the 
religious  man,  with  the  utmost  desire  to  make  every  allow- 
ance and  apology  that  is  possible,  to  offer  any  apology  at  all. 
So  far  from  being  a  mark  of  inconsistency  or  feebleness,  it  is 
a  necessary  note  of  the  completeness  of  religion.  Religion 
professes  to  have  for  its  subject-matter,  and  in  a  measure 
incomplete,  but  relatively  adequate,  to  include,  to  account 
for,  and  to  direct,  the  whole  range  of  all  man's  history,  all 
man's  capacities,  explored  or  unexplored,  all  man's  destiny 
now  and  for  ever.  If  its  truths  and  their  evidence  were 
found  to  address  themselves  exclusively  to  the  intellect,  in 
isolation  from  the  other  qualities  and  experiences  of  man's 
nature,  it  would  be  self-convicted  of  inadequacy.  If  men 
full  of  worldliness  of  heart  and  self-indulgence  could  be 
capable  of  understanding  the  revelation  of  religious  truth 
as  accurately,  of  embracing  it  as  completely,  of  apprehending 
the  depth  and  the  width  of  the  evidence  for  it  (with  which 
all  human  nature  really  is  saturated)  as  thoroughly  as  the 
prayerful  and  the  penitent,  this  would  not  mean  that  religion 
or  religious  evidence  had  been  lifted  up,  on  to  a  higher  and 
more  properly  scientific  level,  but  rather  that  it  had  shrunk 
down  into  correspondence  merely  with  a  part,  and  not  the 
noblest  part,  of  man's  present  nature. 

It  would  be  far  beyond  the  scope  of  this  paper  to  discuss 
kinds  of  evidence,  or  argue  in  defence  of  the  position  that 
there  is  real  evidence  for  religious  truth,  which  is  none  the 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     231 

less  properly  evidence,  because  it  is  different  in  kind  from 
the  evidence  for  the  propositions  of  material  science :  but  it 
may  be  permissible,  at  least,  in  passing  to  record  the  claim, 
and  to  insist  that  religious  men,  in  confining  themselves  to 
strictly  historical  or  logical  arguments,  are  necessarily  omit- 
ting much  which  is  nevertheless,  to  them,  real  ground.  There 
are  evidences  which  can  speak  to  the  heart,  the  imagination, 
the  conscience,  as  well  as  the  intelligence.  Or,  perhaps,  we 
shall  come  nearer  to  an  exact  expression  of  the  truth,  by 
saying  that  the  intelligence,  which  can  apprehend  and  pro- 
nounce upon  the  evidence  of  truths  of  spiritual  conscious- 
ness, is  an  intelligence  identical  in  name,  but  not  identical 
in  nature,  with  that  which  can  well  weigh  and  judge  purely 
logical — or  even  that  which  can  pronounce  upon  moral — 
problems.  The  intelligence  of  a  moral  character,  or  of  a 
spiritual  personality,  differs  not  in  range  only,  but  in  quality, 
from  that  of  a  merely  '  rational  animal.'  If  the  moral  and 
the  spiritual  intelligence  did  not  contain  quite  other  elements, 
drawn  from  quite  other  experiences  and  possibilities,  they 
could  not  work  upon  their  higher  subject-matter  at  all.  To 
the  religious  man,  therefore,  it  must  seem  strictly  unreason- 
able, in  the  examination  of  truths  which  professedly  corre- 
spond to  man's  whole  nature,  and  need  his  whole  nature 
and  experience  for  the  interpretation  of  them,  to  begin  by 
shutting  out,  as  irrelevant,  what  we  will  modestly  call  the 
half  of  man's  nature ;  and  to  demand  that  the  truths  shall 
be  so  stated  and  so  proved,  as  that  the  statements  and  proofs 
shall  correspond  exclusively  with  the  other  half,  and  find  in 
that  other  half  their  whole  interpretation,  and  their  whole 

It  may,  indeed,  be  desirable  to  guard  against  a  miscon- 
ception,  by  the  express  admission  that  there  is  some  neces- 
sary ambiguity  in  the  terms  employed.  We  may  seem  to 
have  unduly  extended  both  the  verbal  meaning,  and  the 
sphere  of  importance,  of  '  evidence '  and  '  proof.'  Undoubtedly 
there  is  a  sense  in  which  it  would  be,  not  merely  true  to 
admit,  but  important  to  insist,  that  in  the  acceptance  of 
religious  truth,  Faith  neither  is,  nor  ever  can  be,  displaced, 

232  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

in  order  that  Demonstration  may  be  enthroned  in  her  place. 
But  then  Demonstration  is  a  word  which  belongs  to  strictly 
logical  nomenclature.  And  the  very  point  here  insisted  on 
is  that  the  strictly  logical  presentment  of  religion  is,  in  refer- 
ence to  the  real  presentment  of  religion,  most  inadequate. 
Undoubtedly,  if  everything  else  is  shorn  away,  and  religion 
remains  solely  and  only  in  the  form  of  strict  logic,  without 
sentiment,  without  imagination,  without  experience  of  duty, 
or  sin,  or  right,  or  aspiration,  or  anything  else  which  belongs 
to  the  spiritual  consciousness  of  human  personalities,  the  logic 
of  it  is,  and  must  be,  imperfectly  conclusive. 

Now  words  such  as  '  evidence,'  '  proof,'  '  intelligence,'  are  no 
doubt  often  used  in  connection  with  processes  of  the  intellect 
taken  apart — the  intellect  of  a  being  merely  rational.  In 
insisting,  therefore,  that  the  word  evidence,  when  used  in 
reference  to  religious  subject-matter,  must  include  data  which, 
to  the  observer  of  physical  phenomena,  would  seem  vague 
and  impalpable ;  and  that  intelligence,  as  adequately  trained 
to  apprehend  and  give  judgment  upon  religious  evidence,  is 
in  some  respects  other,  and  more,  than  that  intelligence  which 
can  deal  with  evidence  into  which  no  element  of  spiritual  con- 
sciousness enters;  we  differ,  perhaps,  at  the  most,  more  in 
form  than  reality,  from  those  who  simply  deprecate  the  appeal 
to  '  evidence '  or  '  proof '  in  matters  of  faith. 

To  the  religious  man,  then,  the  fulness  of  Christian  evidence 
is  as  many-sided  as  human  life.  There  is  historical  evidence, 
— itself  of  at  least  a  dozen  different  kinds, — literary  evidence, 
metaphysical  evidence,  moral  evidence,  evidence  of  sorrow 
and  joy,  of  goodness  and  of  evil,  of  sin  and  of  pardon,  of 
despair  and  of  hope,  of  life  and  of  death ;  evidence  which 
defies  enumerating ;  into  this  the  whole  gradual  life  of  the 
Christian  grows ;  and  there  is  no  part  nor  element  of  life 
which  does  not  to  him  perpetually  elucidate  and  confirm  the 
knowledge  which  has  been  given  him.  Everything  that  is 
or  has  been,  every  consciousness,  every  possibility,  even  every 
doubt  or  wavering,  becomes  to  the  Christian  a  part  of  the 
certainty — an  element  in  the  absorbing  reality — of  his  Creed. 

But  this  is  rather  the  end  than  the  beginning.   Certainly  it 

Vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     233 

is  not  thus  that  the  Creed  of  the  Church  can  present  itself 
to  those  whose  life  is  still  independent  of  the  Creed. 

Let  us  consider,  then,  how  the  truths  of  the  Creed  did  first, 
in  fact,  introduce  themselves  to  human  consciousness.  There 
are  three  several  stages  of  its  presentment  in  history,  of  which 
the  central  one  is  so  overmastering  in  importance,  that  it 
alone  gives  their  character  to  the  other  two.  They  are,  first, 
the  leading  up,  in  the  world's  history  and  consciousness,  to 
the  life  of  Jesus  Christ ;  secondly,  the  life  and  death  of  Jesus 
Christ;  thirdly,  the  results,  in  history  and  consciousness,  of 
the  life  and  death  of  Jesus  Christ.  We  may  say.  perhaps, 
that  of  the  first  of  these  the  main  outcome  was  belief  in  God  ; 
and  such  a  God,  that  belief  in  Him  carried  with  it  the  two 
corollaries  of  aspiration  after  righteousness,  and  conviction  of 
sin.  We  may  say  that  the  third  of  these  means  the  establish- 
ment of  the  Church  upon  earth,  and  the  articulating  of  her 
consciousness  according  to  the  Creeds.  But  in  any  case  all 
the  three  are  plainly  historical,  matters  of  historical  inquiry, 
of  historical  evidence ;  and  all  plainly  depend  entirely  upon 
the  intermediate  one,  the  history  of  a  certain  human  life 
which  purports  to  be — which  either  is,  or  is  not — the  hinge- 
point  of  all  history  whatever. 

All  turns,  then,  upon  a  certain  passage  of  history.  Is  the 
history,  as  believed  by  Christians,  true  or  false?  The  Chris- 
tian record  of  that  history  is  the  New  Testament.  Indeed,  of 
that  history,  the  New  Testament  is  the  only  record.  Is,  then, 
the  history  of  the  teaching  and  the  work,  the  life  and  the 
death,  of  Jesus  Christ,  presented  to  us  in  the  New  Testament 
as  a  chapter  of  historical  fact, — is  it  historical  fact,  or  is  it 
not  ?  The  Incarnation  is  either  a  fact,  or  a  fiction.  The  In- 
carnation means  also  for  Christians  the  Atonement.  For  our 
present  purpose,  the  Incarnation  may  be  taken  as  necessarily 
including  the  Atonement.  But  still  of  this  complex  fact  the 
dilemma  stands.  If  it  is  not  true,  it  is  false.  There  is  no 
middle  term.  If  it  is  not  true,  then,  whether  dogma  in  itself 
is,  or  is  not,  desirable,  at  least  all  the  dogma  of  the  Christian 
Church  is  false. 

234  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

The  Incarnation  and  the  Atonement  together  are  not  pre- 
sented in  the  New  Testament  as,  by  their  own  mere  state- 
ment, guaranteeing  themselves.  On  the  contrary,  there  is  one 
single,  definite,  historical  fact,  which  is  represented  there  as 
the  central  heart  and  core  of  the  evidence  upon  which  the 
conviction  of  their  truth  depends.  This  fact  is  the  resur- 
rection of  Jesus  Christ  from  the  dead.  Though  this  is  not 
the  whole  of  the  Christian  Creed,  yet  this,  according  to 
S.  Paul,  is,  to  the  whole  of  the  Christian  Creed,  crucial. 
'  If  there  be  no  resurrection  from  the  dead,  then  is  Christ 
not  risen ;  and  if  Christ  be  not  risen,  then  is  our  preach- 
ing vain,  and  your  faith  is  also  vain.  Yea,  and  we  are 
found  false  witnesses  of  God ;  because  we  have  testified  of 
God,  that  he  raised  up  Christ ;  whom  He  raised  not  up,  if  so 
be  that  the  dead  rise  not.  For  if  the  dead  rise  not,  then  is 
not  Christ  raised  ;  and  if  Christ  be  not  raised,  your  faith  is 
vain,  ye  are  yet  in  your  sins.'  To  be  direct  personal  evidence 
of  a  certain  fact,  and  that  fact  the  resurrection ; — this  was,  in 
the  view  of  S.  Peter  and  the  Apostles,  the  first  qualification, 
and  the  central  meaning,  of  Apostleship :  '  must  one  be  or- 
dained to  lie  a  witness  with  us  of  His  resurrection ; '  '  this 
Jesus  hath  God  raised  up,  whereof  we  all  are  witnesses.'1 
Upon  the  historical  truth  or  falsehood,  then,  of  the  resurrec- 
tion, hangs  the  whole  question  of  the  nature  and  work  of  Jesus 
Christ,  the  whole  doctrine  of  Incarnation  and  Atonement. 

But  in  saying  this,  it  is  necessary  to  guard  our  proper 
meaning.  If  we  admit  the  fact  of  the  Resurrection  to  be 
cardinal,  what  is  the  fact  of  the  Resurrection  which  is  in 
question  1  It  is  as  far  as  possible  from  being  simply  a  ques- 
tion whether  '  a  man '  could  or  could  not,  did  or  did  not,  re- 
appear, after  death,  in  life.  When  we  speak  of  the  historical 
fact,  we  must  mean  at  least  the  whole  fact  with  all  that  it 
was  and  meant,  complex  as  it  was  and  many-sided ;  not  with 
its  meaning  or  its  proof  isolated  upon  a  single  page  of  the 
book  of  history,  but  having  far-reaching  affinities,  parts  es- 
sentially of  its  interpretation  and  of  its  evidence,  entwined  in 
the  depths  of  the  whole  constitution  of  our  nature,  and  the 
whole  drama  of  history  from  the  first  moment  to  the  last. 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma-     235 

However  much  Christians  may  have  at  times  to  argue  about 
the  simple  evidence  for  the  '  yes  or  '  no  '  of  the  Resurrection 
of  Jesus,  as  if  it  were  the  alleged  resurrection  of  any  other 
man  that  was  in  question,  neither  the  question  itself,  nor  the 
evidence  about  it,  can  possibly  be,  in  fact,  of  the  same  nature 
or  upon  the  same  level,  as  the  evidence  about  another.  No 
amount  of  conviction  of  the  reappearance  in  life  of  any  other 
man,  would  have  any  similar  meaning,  or  carry  any  similar 
consequences.  The  inherent  character  of  Him  who  rose,  and 
the  necessary  connection  between  what  He  was,  and  had  said 
and  claimed  for  Himself,  on  the  one  hand,  and  on  the  other 
His  rising  out  of  death ;  this  is  an  essential  part  of  that  fact 
of  the  resurrection,  which  comes  up  for  proof  or  disproof. 
The  fact  that  Jesus  Christ,  being  what  He  was,  the  climax 
and  fulfilment  of  a  thousand  converging  lines — nay,  of  all 
the  antecedent  history  of  mankind — rose  from  the  dead,  and 
by  that  fact  of  resurrection  (solemnly  fore-announced,  yet  none 
the  less  totally  unlooked  for)  illuminated  and  explained  for 
the  first  time  all  that  before  had  seemed  enigmatical  or 
contradictory  in  what  He  was, — and  indeed  in  all  humanity  ; 
this  is  the  real  fact  of  the  resurrection  which  confronts  us. 
It  is  this  vast  fact  which  is  either  true  or  false.  The  resur- 
rection of  the  crucified  Jesus  cannot  possibly  be  a  bare  or 
simple  fact.  When  viewed  as  a  material  manifestation  of  the 
moment  only,  it  is  at  least  misunderstood ;  it  may  be  unin- 
telligible. It  is,  no  doubt,  an  event  in  history ;  and  yet  it 
confronts  us,  even  there  in  its  place  and  witness  in  history, 
not  simply  as  a  finite  historical  event,  but  as  an  eternal 
counsel  and  infinite  act  of  God. 

Yet  there  are  times  when  we  must  consent  to  leave  much 
of  all  this,  for  the  moment,  on  one  side.  Whatever  else  the 
event  in  history  may  carry  with  it,  of  course  it  must  stand 
its  ground  as  a  mere  historical  event.  The  mere  fact  may 
be  but  a  part  of  it ;  yet  all  will  be  overthrown  if  the  fact  be 
not  fact.  And  so,  though  the  truths  of  the  Christian  religion, 
and  the  evidence  for  them,  be  at  least  as  wide  as  was  repre- 
sented above,  yet  they  present  themselves  to  our  minds  still, 
as  they  presented  themselves  at  first  to  the  minds  of  men, 

236  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

within  the  sphere  and  the  rules  of  ordinary  human  history 
and  historical  evidence.  Here  are  events  written  on  the 
page  of  history.  Examine  them.  Are  they  historically  false 
or  true  ?  If  they  be  not  false,  what  do  they  mean  and  in- 
volve ?  This  is  the  modest  way  in  which  they  present  them- 

No  one  will  now  dispute  that  Jesus  died  upon  the  Cross. 
If  He  did  not,  on  the  third  day,  rise  again  from  that  death  to 
life  ; — cadit  quaestio — all  Christian  dogma,  all  Christian  faith, 
is  at  an  end.  Something  might  still  be  true  which  might  be 
of  interest ;  something,  even,  which  for  sheer  want  of  a  better, 
might  be  still  the  most  interesting  fact  in  the  world's  long 
history ;  but  something  which,  from  the  first  line  to  the  last, 
would  be  essentially  different  from  the  Catholic  faith.  But, 
on  the  other  hand,  if  He  did  so  rise  again,  then  the  fact  of 
His  resurrection  necessarily  raises  further  questions  as  to  His 
nature  and  being, — necessarily  requires  the  understanding  of 
further  truths  for  its  own  intelligent  explanation.  Now  the 
present  paper  is  not  an  evidential  treatise.  It  is  no  part  of 
our  task  to  attempt  to  prove  the  historical  reality  of  the 
resurrection.  What  it  does  concern  us  to  notice  is  the  way  in 
which  the  determination  of  all  Christian  truth  hinges  upon  it. 
If  it  falls,  all  the  rest  will  drift  away,  anchorless  and  unsub- 
stantial, into  the  region  of  a  merely  beautiful  dreamland.  As 
dreamland,  indeed,  it  may  still  captivate  and  inspire ;  but 
anchor  of  sure  fact  there  will  be  none.  It  will  only  be  a 
beautiful  imagination, — a  false  mirage  reflected  from,  based 
upon,  falsehood.  No  doubt  imagination  is  sovereign  in  the 
lives  of  men.  But  then  imagination  means  the  vivifying  of 
truth,  not  the  spectral  embodiment  of  a  lie. 

On  the  other  hand,  if  the  fact  of  the  resurrection  stands, 
then  it  cannot  stand  alone.  If  Jesus  Christ  so  lived  and 
taught  as  even  the  most  indefinite  believers  concede  that  He 
lived  and  taught,  if  He  then  died  on  the  Cross,  and  rose  again 
the  third  day  from,  the  dead,  you  have  indeed  already  the 
foundation  dogma  of  the  Creed  ;  and  having  that,  you  cannot 
possibly  rest  in  it:  that  foundation  fact  will  absolutely 
compel  you  to  ask  and  to  answer  certain  further  necessary 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.    237 

questions ;  and  whatever  intelligible  answer  you  may  choose 
to  give  to  them  will  be  essentially  a  dogmatic  definition. 
Who  or  what  was  this  man  who  thus  lived,  thus  spoke,  thus 
died,  and  thus  rose  from  the  dead  ?  As  a  matter  of  fact,  the 
whole  Church  of  Christ  in  history  (including  the  men  who 
had  been  His  own  companions,  trained  and  inspired  by  Him- 
self,) taught  and  believed,  without  shadow  of  hesitation,  that 
He  was  very  God.  Very  gradually,  indeed,  had  they  advanced 
to  this  ;  step  by  step,  through  their  growing  intimacy  with  a 
character  whose  very  excellences  were  only  enigmatical  and 
confounding,  so  long  as  the  master-truth,  which  lay  behind 
them,  was  ignored.  And  very  tentative,  on  His  side,  was  the 
method  of  His  self-revelation  ;  through  qualities,  through  in- 
herent powers,  through  explicit  teachings,  slowly  felt,  slowly 
recognised,  as  transcendent,  as  impossible,  except  in  relation 
to  a  truth  which,  after  long  misconceptions  and  perplexities, 
is  seen  by  them  at  last  not  only  to  be  true,  but  to  be  the 
essential  truth  which  He  Himself  requires  of  them.  For,  be 
the  method  as  gradual  and  as  tentative  as  you  please,  these 
witnesses,  who  are,  in  fact,  the  only  witnesses  the  world  ever 
has  had,  or  can  have,  of  His  inner  life  and  teaching,  testify 
unhesitatingly  not  only  that  all  true  acceptance  of  Him  was, 
in  their  judgment,  acceptance  of  Him  as  God,  but  that  His 
life  and  death  were  penetrated  by  the  consciousness  of  His 
own  Godhead  ;  and  by  the  deliberate  purpose  (through  what- 
ever unexpected  patience  of  method)  of  convincing  the  whole 
world  in  the  end  of  His  Godhead,  and  receiving  universal  belief, 
and  universal  worship,  as  God. 

Now  no  one  to-day  disputes  that  He  was  truly  man.  Is  it 
true  that  He  was  very  God  ?  It  is  either  true  or  false.  As 
to  the  fact  there  are  only  the  two  alternatives.  And  between 
the  two  the  gulf  is  impassable.  If  it  is  not  false,  it  is  true. 
If  it  is  not  absolutely  true,  it  is  absolutely  false.  According 
to  the  faith  of  the  Catholic  Church  it  is  absolutely  true.  Ac- 
cording to  the  highest  form  of  Arianism,  not  less  than  accord- 
ing to  the  barest  Socinianism,  it  is  (however  you  may  try  to 
gloss  it  over)  absolutely  false. 

Once  more,  it  is  quite  beyond  our  province  to  marshal  or 

238  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

press  argumentatively  the  proofs  that  He  was  indeed  God. 
But  it  is  necessary  to  see  with  perfect  clearness,  how  the 
question  must  have  been  raised,  and  being  raised  must  have 
been  answered.  The  very  life  of  the  Church  was  belief  in 
Him  ;  and  she  could  not  remain  fundamentally  uncertain  as 
to  who  or  what  He  was  in  whom  she  believed.  This  was 
the  one  thing  which  had  never  been  allowed  to  those  who 
drew  near  Christ.  All  through  His  ministry  those  who  came 
near  Him,  and  felt  the  spell  of  His  presence,  His  holiness,  His 
power,  were  undergoing  a  training  and  a  sifting.  Moment 
by  moment,  step  by  step,  the  accumulating  evidence  of  His 
transcendently  perfect  humanity  kept  forcing  more  and  more 
upon  them  all  the  question  which  He  would  never  let  them 
escape,  the  question  by  which  they  were  to  be  tested  and 
judged;  '  What  think  ye  of  Christ  ?  '  '  If  ye  believe  not  that 
I  am  He,  ye  shall  die  in  your  sins.' 

If  there  is  a  true  historical  sense  in  which  the  clear  defini- 
tion of  the  doctrine  of  the  Divinity  of  Jesus  Christ  must  be 
assigned  to  the  Councils  of  the  fourth  and  fifth  centuries,  yet 
it  would  be  a  great  historical  blunder  to  state  or  imagine,  as 
inference,  that  till  then  the  doctrine  was  only  held  partially 
or  with  imperfect  consciousness  in  the  Catholic  Church. 
The  Church  did  not,  as  a  result  of  those  controversies,  de- 
velop the  consciousness  of  any  new  doctrine:  the  develop- 
ment of  her  consciousness  was  rather  in  respect  of  the  shallow 
but  tempting  logic  which  would  deform,  or  the  delusions  which 
might  counterfeit,  her  doctrine,  and  of  the  perils  to  which 
these  must  lead.  It  may  be  a  question,  indeed,  how  far  the 
words  implicit  and  explicit  do,  or  do  not,  represent  the  distinc- 
tion between  the  dogmatic  consciousness  of  the  Apostolic  and 
the  Conciliar  ages.  The  difficulty  in  determining  depends 
solely  on  this,  that  the  words  themselves  are  used  with 
different  meanings.  Thus,  sometimes  men  are  said  to  hold 
implicitly  what  they  never  perhaps  suspected  themselves  of 
holding,  if  it  can  be  shewn  to  be  a  more  or  less  legitimate 
outcome,  or  logical  development,  of  their  belief.  If  such  men 
advance  inferentially  from  point  to  point,  their  explicit  belief 
at  a  later  time  may  be,  in  many  particulars,  materially 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     239 

different  from  what  it  had  been  at  an  earlier ;  even  though  it 
might  be  logically  shewn  that  the  earlier  thought  was,  more 
or  less  directly,  the  parent  of  the  later.  Now  in  any  such 
sense  as  this  we  shall  stoutly  maintain  that,  from  the 
beginning,  the  Church  held  dogmatic  truths  not  implicitly, 
but  explicitly  and  positively.  They  who  baptized  into  the 
threefold  Name  of  the  Father,  and  of  the  Son,  and  of  the 
Holy  Ghost ;  whose  blessing  was  '  The  grace  of  the  Lord 
Jesus  Christ,  and  the  love  of  God,  and  the  communion  of 
the  Holy  Ghost ; '  who,  living  in  the  Spirit,  lived  in  Christ ; 
whose  highest  worship  was  the  Communion  of  the  Body  and 
the  Blood  of  Christ,  and  whose  perfectness  of  life  was  Christ ; 
they,  so  living  and  worshipping,  did  not  hold  the  Godhead  of 
Jesus  Christ  implicitly  ;  they  did  not  hold  something  out  of 
which  the  doctrine  of  the  Trinity  might  come  to  be  unfolded. 
On  the  other  hand,  you  may  use  the  same  contrast  of  words, 
meaning  merely  that  you  have,  through  cross-questioning  or 
otherwise,  obtained  a  power  which  you  did  not  possess,  of 
defining,  in  thought  and  in  words,  the  limits  of  your  belief, 
and  distinguishing  it  precisely  from  whatever  does  not  belong 
to  it.  You  hold  still  what  you  always  meant  to  hold.  You 
say  still  what  you  always  meant  to  say.  But  it  is  your 
intellectual  mastery  over  your  own  meaning  which  is  altered. 
Like  a  person  fresh  from  the  encounter  of  a  keen  cross-exami- 
nation, you  are  furnished  now,  as  you  were  not  before,  with 
distinctions  and  comparisons,  with  definitions  and  measure- 
ments,— in  a  word,  with  all  that  intellectual  equipment,  that 
furniture  of  alert  perception  and  exact  language,  by  which  you 
are  able  to  realize  for  yourself,  as  well  as  to  define  to  others, 
what  that  meaning  exactly  is,  and  what  it  is  not,  which  itself 
was  before,  as  truly  as  it  is  now,  the  very  thing  that  you 

In  this  sense,  no  doubt,  the  definitions  of  councils  did  make 
Christian  consciousness  more  explicit  in  relation  to  positive 
truth.  They  acquired,  indeed,  no  new  truth.  Primarily  they 
were  rather,  on  this  side  or  on  that,  a  blocking  off  of  such 
false  forms  of  thought  or  avenues  of  unbalanced  inference,  as 
forced  themselves  forward,  one  by  one,  amidst  the  intellectual 

240  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

efforts  of  the  time,  to  challenge  the  acceptance  of  Christian 
people.  Primarily  they  are  not  the  Church  saying  '  yes  '  to 
fresh  truths,  or  developments,  or  forms  of  consciousness  ;  but 
rather  saying  '  no '  to  untrue  and  misleading  modes  of  shaping 
and  stating  her  truth.  Only  indirectly,  in  that  effort,  the 
Church  acquires  through  them  a  new  definiteness  of  mastery 
for  the  intellect  in  reference  to  the  exactness  of  her  own 

It  is  comparatively  easy  for  those  who  are  convinced  of  a 
truth  to  struggle  against  its  open  contradiction.  But  false 
modes  of  stating  their  truth,  and  unbalanced  inferences  from 
their  truth,  are  often  staggering  to  minds  which  would  be 
unperplexed  by  any  less  insidious  form  of  error.  It  may  be 
that,  in  all  ages  of  the  Church,  even  those  who  are  born  and 


bred  in  undoubting  faith  in  the  Person  of  Jesus,  have  to  pass, 
more  or  less  explicitly,  through  their  own  experience  of 
hesitation  and  exaggeration,  of  reaction  and  counter-reaction, 
before  they  are  quite  in  a  position  to  define,  or  maintain  by 
argument  in  the  face  of  insidious  alternatives,  the  exact  pro- 
portion of  their  own  Catholic  belief. 

Not  unsuggestively,  indeed,  nor  indirectly,  do  the  oscilla- 
tions of  the  public  consciousness  in  the  era  of  the  councils,  as 
to  the  due  expression  of  Catholic  belief,  reproduce  on  a  larger 
scale,  and  therefore  with  more  magnified  clumsiness,  the 
alternating  exaggerations  of  such  a  single  struggling  mind. 
The  natural  thought  begins,  as  a  matter  of  course,  as  Apostles 
had  begun  of  old,  with  the  perfect  and  obvious  certainty  that 
Jesus  was  a  man.  Then  comes  the  mighty  crisis  to  natural 
thought.  With  infinite  heavings  and  stragglings,  and  every 
conceivable  expedient  of  evasion,  it  strains  to  avoid  the  im- 
mense conclusion  which  challenges  it,  catching  eagerly  at 
<  -very  refinement,  if  so  be  it  may  be  possible  to  stop  short  of 
full  acceptance  of  a  truth  so  staggering  (when  it  comes  to 
be  measured  intellectually)  as  that  the  Man  Jesus  was 
Himself  the  Eternal  God.  Now  however  grossly  unjust  it 
might  be  to  think  of  Arianism  as  if  it  ever  meant,  or 
held,  Jesus  Christ  to  be  merely  a  man ;  yet  it  is  true  that 
in  respect  of  the  one  great  question  which  is  at  the  root 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     241 

of  Christian  faith, — is  He  God,  or  is  He  not?— it  stands 
as  offering  alternatives  and  expedients,  by  which  the  plain 
answer  '  yes '  may  be  avoided ;  by  which  therefore  the 
answer  '  no '  is  in  effect  maintained  ;  for  between  '  God '  and 
'not  God'  the  distinction  cannot  be  bridged.  This,  then, 
is  the  real  hinge-point  of  the  Catholic  faith.  But  when  this, 
the  greatest  of  all  battles  of  belief,  is  won  at  last,  in  spite  of 
every  variety  of  Arian  and  semi-Arian  refining  ;  forthwith  the 
undisciplined  mind,  always  ready  to  exaggerate,  always  difficult 
of  balance,  begins  so  to  run  into  ardour  of  expression  of  its 
truth,  as  in  effect  to  make  unreal  the  other  half  of  the  doc- 
trine of  the  Incarnation.  The  first  great  wonder  once  grasped, 
it  is  so  natural,  in  fervour  of  insistance  on  the  very  Godhead, 
to  forget  or  deny  the  simple  completeness  of  the  very  Man- 
hood! It  seems  so  hard, — almost  wanting  in  reverence, — 
still  to  conceive  of  Him  then  as  perfectly  human, — human 
body  and  human  soul !  What  more  obvious  reaction  in  the 
mind  of  any  pupil  not  yet  perfectly  steadied  and  balanced  ? 
Yet  these  few  short  sentences  represent  not  untruly  the  real 
process  of  education,  painfully  accomplished  by  those  intel- 
lectual struggles  which  culminated  in  the  councils  of  Nicaea 
and  Constantinople,  in  325  and  381  respectively.  And  when 
the  pupil  is  steadied  from  this  second  excess,  and  the  Godhead 
and  the  Manhood  are  both  grasped,  each  severally,  each  com- 
pletely, there  follows  again  a  perfectly  natural  result  in  a 
new  uncertainty  about  the  union  of  the  two  in  Jesus.  Ao-ain 

.  9 

it  seems  an  instinct  of  reverence  which  shrinks  from  the  truth. 
For  the  Manhood,  it  is  urged,  though  complete,  body,  soul, 
and  spirit,  must  yet  remain,  in  Him,  a  thing  separable  and 
separate  from  His  own  original  Divine  personality.  But 
if  the  human  nature  was  not  verily  His  own  nature,  if  it  was 
animated  by  any  consciousness  which  was  not  absolutely  His 
own  consciousness,  the  consciousness  of  His  one  undivided 
personality, — what  or  whence  in  Him  was  this  other  than 
His  own  individual  consciousness  ?  Is  it  so,  then,  the  mind 
begins  necessarily  to  ask  itself,  that  the  mystery  of  the  Incar- 
nate Life  was  the  mystery  of  a  double  consciousness,  a  double 
personality  1  two  distinguishable  existences,  two  selves,  two 


242  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

identities,  side  by  side,  harmonious,  allied,  yet  nowhere  really 
meeting  in  any  one  underlying  principle  of  unity  ?  It  was 
necessary  that  the  doubt  should  be  raised,  that  its  meaning 
and  results  might  be  measured.  But  it  is  this  which  becomes 
the  Nestorianism  against  which  the  council  of  Ephesus  in  431 
set  the  seal  of  Catholic  belief.  Once  more,  the  natural  re- 
action from  Nestorianism,  when  the  believer  is  keenly  alert 
against  its  danger,  is  so  to  insist  upon  the  indivisible  Per- 
sonal unity,  as  to  shrink  from  the  admission  of  any  distin- 
guishableness  in  Him,  actual  or  possible,  between  the  two 
natures  or  characters  which  He  united,  between  the  human 
and  the  Divine  elements  in  His  one  consciousness.  But  this 
is  either  once  more  to  curtail  the  true  completeness  of  the 
human  nature,  or  to  fuse  it  with  the  Divine  into  some  new 
thing  not  truly  identical  with  either.  And  this  is  the  Mono- 
physitism  of  451,  the  subject-matter  of  the  fourth  great  general 
council  at  Chalcedon. 

It  is  said,  indeed,  that  the  ages  of  councils  were  uncritical 
ages  ;  and  that  their  decisions  are  therefore  not  to  be  accepted 
as  authoritative  on  questions  of  minute  theological  criticism, 
for  which  their  uncritical  spirit  made  them  specially  unfit. 
The  assertion  is  perhaps  a  little  beside  the  mark.  You  have 
not  to  plead  that  they  were  likely  to  be  uncritical,  but  to 
shew  that  they  were  in  fact  wrong.  It  is  clear  that  they 
were  not  specially  unfit  either  to  arrive  at  a  definiteness  of 
meaning,  or  to  express  what  they  meant.  They  were  sure 
what  they  meant ;  and  have  expressed  it  with  perfect  clear- 
ness. The  question  is  not  how  critical  they  were  likely  to  be, 
but  whether  their  meaning — which  is  clear — is  right  or  wrong. 
Whatever  antecedent  probability  there  may  be  either  in  the 
minds  of  nineteenth  century  critics  against  their  correct- 
ness, or  in  the  minds  of  Churchmen  accustomed  to  defer  to 
them  in  favour  of  it ;  it  is  certain  that  no  one  who  is  really 
doubtful  about  the  truth  of  Christianity,  will  be  called  upon 
to  accept  it  in  deference  to  the  mere  authority  of  the  Councils. 
However  much  more  they  may  be  to  ourselves,  to  such  an  one 
as  this  they  must  stand  at  least  as  witnesses  of  what  the  con- 
sciousness of  the  Christian  community  set  its  seal  to,  in  the 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     243 

way  of  interpretation  of  its  own  original  deposit  of  belief. 
We  do  not  much  care  to  argue  whether  they  belonged  to  an 
age  of  criticism  or  not.  Yet  we  must  needs  be  ready  to  listen 
to  anyone  who  can  prove  that  their  determinations  were  wrong. 
Councils,  we  admit,  and  Creeds,  cannot  go  behind,  but  must 
wholly  rest  upon  the  history  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ.  If 
anyone  could  seriously  convict  the  Creeds  of  being  unscrip- 
tural,  we  must  listen  to  him  and  bow, — as  scientific  men 
would  have  to  bow  to  anyone  who  really  could  prove  the 
fundamental  propositions  of  their  science  to  be  wrong.  But 
meanwhile,  so  complete  is  the  historical  acceptance  of  the 
Creeds,  and  their  consecration  in  the  consciousness  of  the 
Church  ;  that  there  is  at  least  as  clear  a  presumption  that  we 
are  uncatholic  in  differing  from  them,  as  there  would  be  that 
we  were  unscientific  if  we  dissented  from  the  most  universally 
accepted  faiths  of  science. 

Now  even  this,  the  most  commonplace  statement  of  the 
growth  of  Christian  definitions,  will  serve  to  mark  what  the 
nature  of  dogma  is.  So  far  from  faith  without  it  being  a 
thing  more  spiritual  or  pure,  faith  without  it  is  a  thing  ir- 
rational. Faith  in  what  ?  I  cannot  have  faith  without  an 
object.  Faith  in  Jesus  Christ1?  But  who  is  Jesus  Christ1? 
Is  He  a  dead  man  ?  Is  He,  as  a  dead  man,  no  longer  in  any 
existence  ?  Or  am  I,  at  least,  necessarily  ignorant  as  to 
whether  He  and  other  dead  men  have  any  existence,  actual 
or  probable  ?  Or  is  He  a  man  indeed, — no  more ;  and  dead 
indeed  ;  but,  as  other  good  men,  alive  after  death  somehow  in 
the  blessedness  of  God  ?  And  what  then  did  His  life  mean  ? 
or  His  strange  deliberate  dying?  or  what  connection  have 
they  of  meaning  or  power  with  me  ?  And  this  God  that  you 
speak  of;  do  I  know  anything  of  Him?  or  what?  or  how? 
Or  again,  is  Jesus  Himself  the  living  God?  And  are  the 
things  true  which  are  handed  down  to  me  in  the  Church  as 
taught  by  Himself  about  the  relations  of  God  ?  Is  He  my 
living  Master ;  my  very  Kedeemer  by  the  Cross  ;  my  eternal 
Judge?  and  where  and  how  have  I  contact  in  life  or  soul 
with  the  benefits  of  His  Cross,  or  the  power  of  His  help  ?  If 
indeed  I  have  nothing  to  do  with  Him,  and  no  interest  in  His 

B  2 

244  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

history,  it  is  possible  for  me  to  go  on  without  caring  to  answer 
such  questions.  But  faith  in  Him  can  have  no  meaning 
while  these  are  ignored.  The  question  whether  He  is  or  is 
not  God,  is  one  which  cannot  but  be  asked  and  answered. 

And  either  answer  to  the  question  is  alike  dogmatic.  The 
Arian  is  no  less  dogmatic  than  the  Catholic.  A  dogmatic 
faith  is  only  a  definite  faith ;  and  that  upon  questions  upon 
which  it  has  become  irrational  to  remain  indefinite,  after 
I  have  once  been  brought  to  a  certain  point  of  acquaintance 
with  them.  The  question  between  the  Catholic  and  the 
Arian  is,  not  whose  doctrine  evades  definiteness  of  determi- 
nation, but  whose  dogma  is  in  accord  with  the  truth  and 
its  evidence.  The  negative  answer  to  the  question  proposed 
would  only  be  unjudicial,  not  undogmatic.  Meanwhile,  the 
affirmative  answer  would  be  so  complete  a  concession  of  the 
whole  position,  that  if  it  has  once  been  made,  as  much  has 
really  been  admitted,  so  far  as  any  battle  about  dogma  goes, 
as  if  the  whole  formal  statement  of  the  Athanasian  Creed 
had  been  expressly,  as  it  will  have  been  implicitly,  included. 
There  is  nothing,  then,  really  to  fight  against  in  these  words, 
'  The  rio-ht  faith  is,  that  we  believe  and  confess  that  our 


Lord  Jesus  Christ,  the  Son  of  God,  is  God  and  Man ;  God, 
of  the  substance  of  the  Father,  begotten  before  the  worlds: 
and  Man,  of  the  substance  of  His  mother,  born  in  the  world  ; 
perfect  God,  and  perfect  Man:  of  a  reasonable  soul  and 
human  flesh  subsisting;  equal  to  the  Father,  as  touching 
His  Godhead  ;  and  inferior  to  the  Father,  as  touching  His 
Manhood.  Who  although  He  be  God  and  Man :  yet  He  is 
not  two,  but  one  Christ ;  One ;  not  by  conversion  of  the 
Godhead  into  flesh  ;  but  by  taking  of  the  Manhood  into  God  ; 
One  altogether ;  not  by  confusion  of  substance,  but  by  unity 
of  Person.' 

Another  thing  which  perhaps  the  same  commonplace  state- 
ment may  illustrate  as  to  the  character  of  Christian  dogma, 
is  its  largeness  and  equity.  It  is  harmony  ;  it  is  proportion ; 
it  is  the  protest  of  balanced  completeness  against  all  that 
partiality,  which,  by  exaggerating  something  that  is  true, 
distorts  the  proportion  and  simplicity  of  truth.  Every  several 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     245 

form  of  error, — we  admit  it  willingly, — grew  out  of,  and  re- 
presented, a  truth.  Catholic  doctrine  alone  preserves  the 
proportion  of  truth.  To  work  and  to  think  within  the  lines 
of  dogmatic  faith,  is  to  work  and  to  think  upon  the  true 
and  harmonious  conception  of  the  Person  of  Jesus  Christ — 
'  Quern  nosse  vivere,  Cui  servire  regnare.'  In  this  knowledge 
certainly  there  is  no  limitedness,  and  in  this  subordination 
no  slavery. 

The  meaning  of  Christian  dogma,  then,  so  far  as  we  have 
at  present  had  anything  to  do  with  it,  is  simply  this.  It  is 
the  self-realizing  of  the  consciousness  of  the  Christian  com- 
munity in  respect  of  the  answer  to  be  given  to  that  one 
great  question,  fundamental  and  inevitable,  with  which  all 
in  all  times  who  would  approach  Christ  must  be  met, — 
'  Whom  say  ye  that  I  am  1 ' 

But,  it  will  be  felt,  it  is  all  very  well  to  insist  so  much 
upon  this  one  point,  which  it  is  comparatively  easy  to  repre- 
sent as  the  necessary  answer  of  a  truthful  conscience  to  a 
question  which  is  forced  upon  it  by  the  plainest  evidence ; — 
but  are  there  not  a  great  many  Christian  doctrines  besides1? 
What  of  the  rest  of  them, — 'all  the  articles  of  the  Christian 
faith,'  as  the  Catechism  says  ?  I  have  ventured  to  speak  at 
length  upon  this  one,  not  because  it  is  easier  to  handle  con- 
veniently than  the  others,  but  because  it  directly  carries,  if 
it  does  not  contain,  everything.  It  is  not  only  that  this  is 
in  itself  so  tremendous  a  dogma,  that  no  one  who  affirms  this 
can  possibly  quarrel  any  longer  with  the  principle  of  dogmatic 
definition,  but  that  this  so  inevitably  involves  all  the  other 
propositions  of  the  Creed,  that  no  one,  whose  conscience  has 
accepted  this,  will  find  it  easy  to  separate  between  it  and 
the  whole  Christian  faith. 

The  Christian  Creed  consists  of  three  parts  only ;  and  all 
three  are,  '  Belief  in  God.'  '  I  believe  in  God,  the  Father,  the 
Son,  and  the  Holy  Ghost '  is.  in  brief,  the  whole  Christian 
Creed.  Its  shortest  expression  is  in  three  words  (which  three 
words  are  but  one),  '  Holy,  Holy,  Holy.'  The  definitions  of 
the  Apostles',  of  the  Nicene,  and  of  the  Athanasian  Creeds, 
none  of  them  really  travel  outside  of  this.  Take,  for  example, 

246  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

the  doctrine  of  the  Holy  Trinity.  Intellectually  it  is,  of 
course,  antecedent  to  the  doctrine  of  the  Incarnation  and  the 
Atonement.  But  it  will  be  observed  that  it  is  made  known 
to  us  not  antecedently,  but  as  a  consequence  of  our  previous 
conviction  of  the  Incarnation.  Moreover,  when  it  is  made 
known,  it  is  made  known  rather  incidentally  than  directly. 
Even  though  it  is,  when  revealed  and  apprehended,  the  in- 
clusive sum  of  our  faith,  yet  there  is,  in  the  revelation,  no 
formal  unfolding  of  it,  as  of  a  mysterious  truth  set  to  chal- 
lenge our  express  contemplation  and  worship.  There  is 
nothing  here  to  be  found  in  the  least  corresponding  with  the 
explicit  challenge,  '  Whom  say  ye  that  I  am  ? '  or  '  On  this 
rock  will  I  build  My  Church ; '  but  rather  indirectly,  so  far 
as  our  contemplation  of  the  Incarnation,  and  its  abiding  con- 
sequences, requires  for  its  own  necessary  interpretation  to  our 
understanding,  that  we  should  have  some  insight  into  the 
mystery  of  the  distinction  of  Persons  in  the  Godhead,  so  far, 
and  in  reference  to  that  purpose,  the  mystery  of  the  Holy 
Trinity  grows  gradually  into  clearness  of  revelation  to  our 
consciousness.  It  is  clear  that  any  distinctness  of  conception 
whatever  as  to  the  meaning  of  Incarnation  would  be  im- 
possible, without  some  revelation  of  mutual  relations  between 
the  Sender  and  the  Sent,  the  Immutable  and  the  Incarnate, 
the  Father  and  the  Son.  If  it  is  less  clear  from  the  first,  it 
is  surely  not  less  certain,  that  any  conception  we  may  have 
of  the  relation  so  revealed  between  the  Father  and  the  Son, 
would  be  fainter  by  far,  and  less  intelligible  than  it  is,  if  it 
were  not  for  that  which  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  has  told  us 
as  to  the  office  and  nature  of  the  Holy  Spirit ;  if  with  our 
growing  conception  of  distinctness  and  relation  as  between 
the  Sender  and  the  Sent,  we  had  not  also  some  added  con- 
ception of  that  Blessed  Spirit  of  Holiness,  Who,  emanating 
from  both,  is  the  Spirit  of  both  alike,  and  is  thereby  also  the 
very  bond  of  perfectness  of  Love  whereby  both  are  united  in 
One  ;  and  whereby,  further,  all  spirits  in  whom  God's  presence 
dwells,  are  united,  so  far,  in  a  real  oneness  of  spirit  with  one 
another  and  with  God.  And  it  is  quite  certain,  that  whether 
we  seem  to  anyone  to  be  right  or  no  in  treating  this  reve- 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.    ,247 

lation  of  the  Holy  Ghost  as  a  necessary,  if  incidental,  part  of 
what  we  had  need  to  be  taught  of  the  revelation  of  the 
Father  and  the  Son,  in  order  to  make  Incarnation  properly 
intelligible ;  it  is  altogether  essential  for  that  other  purpose, 
in  connection  with  which  the  revelation  is  more  immediately 
made,  that  is,  for  any  understanding  on  our  part  of  the  abiding 
work  of  God  in  His  Church,  after  the  Resurrection  and  Ascen- 
sion. '  The  holy  Catholic  Church,  the  Communion  of  Saints, 
the  Forgiveness  of  sins,  the  Resurrection  of  the  body,  and 
the  life  everlasting  ; '  these  are  not  miscellaneous  items  thrown 
in  at  the  end  of  the  Creed  after  the  doctrine  of  the  Holy 
Trinity  is  finished,  but  they  are  essential  parts  of  the  under- 
standing of  the  doctrine  of  the  Holy  Ghost :  and  on  the  other 
hand,  without  the  revelation  of  the  Person  and  work  of  the 
Holy  Ghost,  these  doctrines,  practical  though  they  be,  and 
vital  for  practice, — no  less  indeed  than  the  very  essence  and 
meaning  of  the  work  of  the  Incarnation  from  the  day  of 
Ascension  forwards,  that  is  to  say  the  whole  historical  effect 
and  fruit  of  the  Incarnation, — would  be  evacuated  of  all  living 
meaning,  and  would  become  for  us  only  the  empty  phrases 
of  a  far-away  baseless  yearning,  which  even  now  (apart  from 
the  life  of  the  Holy  Spirit  informing  us)  they  are  ever  too 
ready  to  become. 

It  is  hoped  that  even  such  brief  statements  may  at  least 
serve  to  indicate  how  it  is  true  that  the  whole  of  our  Chris- 
tian creed,  even  those  parts  which  seem  most  separable  from 
it,  or  antecedent  to  it,  are  for  us  really  contained  in  the  one 
crucial  doctrine  of  the  Incarnation,  that  is,  of  the  eternal 
Godhead  of  the  Man  Christ  Jesus.  And  this  will  compel  us 
once  more  to  recognise  the  simplicity  of  Christian  dogma. 
It  does  not  mean  a  complicated  system  of  arbitrary  definitions 
upon  a  great  variety  of  subjects  of  religious  speculation,  for- 
mulated one  after  another  by  human  ingenuity,  and  imposed 
by  human  despotism  upon  the  consciences  of  the  unthinking 
or  the  submissive  ;  it  means  rather  the  simple  expression 
(guarded  according  to  experience  of  misconception)  of  the 
fundamental  fact  of  the  Incarnation,  together  with  such  reve- 
lation as  to  the  relations  of  the  Divine  Being,  and  the  wonder 


248  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

of  His  work  amongst  men,  as  is  clearly  lit  up  by  the  event 
of  the  Incarnation  itself,  and  is  required  for  such  apprehen- 
sion of  the  meaning  and  effects  of  the  Incarnation,  as  Jesus 
Christ  held  to  be  meet  and  necessary  for  us. 

And  so  it  is  with  all  parts  of  Christian  doctrine.  If  they 
would  be  found  to  be  necessarily  contained  in  a  full  un- 
folding of  the  great  truth  which  the  Creed  so  briefly  and 
simply  declares,  then  they  really  are  parts  of  our  faith, 
because  they  are  really  involved  in  the  understanding  of 
the  threefold  revelation  to  man  of  the  Name  of  God,  which 
is  the  sum  total  of  our  faith.  But  if  the  Name  of  our  God 
does  not  contain  them,  they  are  not  in  our  creed  or  our  faith. 
Is  there,  for  example,  a  visible  Church  ?  Is  there  an  Apostolic 
Ministry  ?  The  answer  depends  on  the  inquiry  as  to  what 
is  revealed,  first  in  Scripture,  and  then  in  history,  as  to  the 
method  of  the  working  of  the  Spirit  of  Christ  in  the  world. 
Did  the  Old  Testament  prefigure,  in  action  and  in  utterance, 
did  the  Incarnation  require,  did  the  Gospels  interpret  or  com- 
ment upon,  did  the  Apostles  organize  or  govern,  any  definitely 
articulated  society,  with  ceremonies  or  officers,  rules  or  dis- 
cipline, of  its  own  1  Was  this,  the  method  of  association  and 
membership,  or  was  some  other,  the  mode  of  the  working  of 
the  Spirit  of  the  Christ  among  men  ?  Is  the  work  of  Christ, 
in  redeeming  and  reconciling  to  God,  is  His  present  relation 
to  the  world,  properly  intelligible,  or  not,— apart  from  the 
Church  1  Is  the  ministry  of  the  Church,  or  are  the  sacraments 
of  the  Church,  to  those  who  thoughtfully  read  Scripture  and 
history,  a  demonstrable  part,  or  normal  condition,  of  the 
working  of  the  Holy  Ghost  in  the  Church  ?  If  so,  belief  in  them 
is  contained  in  my  words,  not  only  when  I  say,  '  I  believe  in 
the  holy  Catholic  Church,'  but  also,  though  less  plainly,  when 
I  say,  '  I  believe  in  the  Holy  Ghost.'  But  if  not,  it  is  not 
contained.  If  they  are  really  separable  from  the  Catholic 
Church,  truly  understood,  or  from  the  understanding  of  the 
Holy  Spirit  and  His  work,  then  they  are  no  part  of  what 
any  Christian  need  believe.  But  so  far  as  the  holy  Catholic 
Church,— so  far  as  the  orderly,  covenanted  work  of  the  Holy 
Spirit  in  the  world,— involves  and  contains  the  idea  of  the 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     249 

ministry  or  the  sacraments,  so  far  every  Christian  will  know, 
just  in  proportion  as  he  knows  the  true  meaning  of  his  creed, 
that  he  is  bound  to  them.  It  is  no  part  of  my  business  to 
pursue  the  question  of  the  sacraments  or  the  ministry  further 

It  may  be  observed,  perhaps,  that  the  Creed  contains  no 
proposition  expressly  about  ourselves, — about  the  fall,  for 
instance,  or  about  sin.  Yet  in  and  from  the  first  word  of  the 
Creed,  I  of  course  am  present  there  :  and  as  to  formal  propo- 
sitions about  myself,  it  may  be  that  they  are  not  so  much 
articles  of  belief,  as,  rather,  conditions  of  mind  antecedent  to 
belief,  conditions  of  self-consciousness  to  which  belief  fits  and 
responds,  and  without  which  the  Creed  itself  would  be  un- 
intelligible. But  what  is  thus  necessarily  implied  and  in- 
volved in  the  terms  of  the  Creed,  is  after  all  substantially 
contained  in  that  Creed  to  which  it  is  a  condition  of  intelligible- 
ness.  Of  course  my  creed  necessarily  presupposes  myself.  I 
cannot  believe  at  all,  except  I  am,  and  have  a  certain  history 
and  faculties.  I  cannot  believe  in  God  as  Father,  as  Almighty, 
as  Creator,  without  implying  and  including  within  that 
belief  the  fundamental  facts  of  my  nature  and  relation  to 
Him.  I  cannot  believe  in  the  Incarnation  and  the  Redemp- 
tion, their  meaning  or  their  consequences,  I  cannot  believe 
in  the  Holy  Spirit,  or  have  any  intelligent  apprehension  of 
His  working,  except  there  be  implied,  as  conditions  of  my 
consciousness  necessary  to  that  intelligence,  some  apprehen- 
sion of  that  which  is  meant  by  the  fall,  some  inalienable  sense 
of  evil,  of  sin,  of  the  banishment  from  God  which  is  the  fruit 
of  sin,  of  the  inherent  contradiction  to  my  nature,  the  un- 
natural penalty  and  horror,  which  the  banishment  of  sin 
involves.  So  probation,  judgment,  heaven,  hell,  are  beliefs 
which  grow  by  inevitable  consequence  out  of  the  apprehen- 
sion, once  grasped,  of  the  nature  and  distinction  of  good  and 
evil ;  they  are  necessary  corollaries  from  the  full  perception  of 
the  eternal  Tightness  of  right,  the  eternal  wrongness  of  wrong, 
the  eternal  separation  and  contrast  between  right  and  wrong  ; 
in  a  word,  from  belief  in  God  on  the  part  of  man. 
,  Perhaps  this  illustration  may  serve  to  shew  how  much, 

250  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

that  is  not  obvious  in  the  letter,  may  nevertheless  be  really 
contained  in  man's  utterance  of  the  Name  of  God. 

III.  But  while  the  doctrines  of  the  Church  which  her  Creeds 
express  are  thus  as  simple  as  they  are  profound,  it  is 
no  doubt  true  that  there  has  grown  up  round  about  them 
a  considerable  body  of  theological  teaching,  more  or  less  com- 
plicated, which  is  really  of  the  nature  of  comment  upon  them, 
or  explication  of  their  nature  and  meaning.  When  we  speak 
of  the  dogmas  of  Christianity,  it  is  right  to  distinguish,  with 
the  clearest  possible  line  of  demarcation,  between  all  this 
mass  of  explanatory  teaching  (more  or  less  authoritative  as  it 
may  from  time  to  time  appear  to  be)  and  the  central  truths 
themselves,  which  are  our  real  certainties.  The  doctrine  itself 
is  one  thing :  the  theories  explicative  of  the  doctrine  are 
another.  They  may  be  of  the  highest  value  in  their  own 
time  and  place ;  but  they  are  not  the  immutable  principles  of 
Church  truth.  To  say  this  is  not  really  to  depreciate  the  work 
of  theological  writers  and  teachers  of  different  ages  ;  but  it  is 
to  assign  to  their  work  its  true  position.  The  current  mode 
of  explaining  a  doctrine  in  one  age,  and  bringing  it  home  by 
illustrations  to  the  imagination  of  men,  may  be  discredited 
and  superseded  in  another.  When  the  current  mode  of  state- 
ment or  illustration  begins  to  be  more  or  less  discredited,  the 
minds  of  quiet  people  are  apt  to  be  distressed.  This  is 
because  very  few  of  us  can  distinguish  between  the  truths 
themselves  which  we  hold,  and  the  (often  mistaken)  modes  of 
expression  by  which  we  seem  to  explain  our  truths  to  our- 
selves. Even  when  our  explanation  is  substantially  true,  the 
doctrine  is  still  a  different  thing  from  our  explanation  of  it ; 
and  if  any  imperfection  is  detected  in  our  explanation  of  it,  it 
is  not  truth  which  suffers  ;  it  is  only  that  truth  is  being  dis- 
tinguished from  our  imperfect  and  unconscious  glosses  ;  and 
thereby  in  the  end  the  truth  can  only  be  served.  Perhaps  no 
illustration  of  this  can  be  more  convincing  than  that  which 
the  history  of  the  doctrine  of  Atonement  supplies.  That 
Christ  died  upon  the  cross  for  us,  that  He  offered  Himself  as 
a  sacrifice,  and  that  we  are  redeemed  through  His  blood,  this 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     251 

is  a  belief  fundamental  to  Christianity;  nor  has  the  Church 
ever  wavered  for  an  instant  in  her  strong  faith  in  this.     But 
when  we  go  further,  and  come  to  the  different  illustrations 
that  have  been  given  to  make  the  precise  nature  of  Atonement 
clear  to  human  logic,  when  in  fact  we  enter  upon  the  domain 
of  explicative  theories,  we  have  not  only  left  the  sure  ground 
of  the  Creeds,  and  embarked  upon  views  which  may  or  may 
not  be  correct,  but  we  find,  as  a   fact,  that  the  modes  of 
thought  which  seemed  adequately  to  explain  the  doctrine  to 
the  conscience  of  some  ages,  have  not  only  failed  to  satisfy, 
but  have  actually  shocked  and  offended,  others.    The  teaching 
that  God  was  angry,  but  that  Jesus,  as  a  result  of  gentler 
mercy,  and  through  His  innocent  blood,  appeased,  by  satisfy- 
ing, the  wrath  of  the  Father,  and  so  reconciled  God  to  us ; 
the  teaching  that  Satan  had  obtained  a  right  over  man,  but 
that  Jesus,  by  giving  up  Himself,  paid  a  splendid  ransom 
into  the  hands  of  Satan ;  the  teaching  that  a  debt  was  due 
from  humanity  to  God,  and  that  Jesus,  clothed  as  man,  alone 
could  deliver  man  by  discharging  God's  debt :  these — be  they 
popular  blunderings,  or  genuine  efforts  of  Theology — may, 
in  their  times,  have  both  helped  and  wounded  consciences; 
but  whether  they  be  to  us  as  helps  or  hindrances,  it  is  of 
the   utmost  importance  that   we  should  discriminate  them, 
or  others  which  may  have  succeeded  to  them  as  theories  ex- 
planatory of  the  Atonement,  from  our  cardinal  belief  in  the 
Atonement  itself.     We  may  have  rightly  seen  what  is  vicious 
in  these  statements,  and  we  may  have  greatly  improved  upon 
them,  but  however  much  more  helpful  our  modes  of  exposi- 
tion may  prove  themselves  to  our  own  minds  or  those  of  our 
hearers,  we  may  only  be  repeating  the  old  error,  and  leading 
the  way  to  fresh  distresses  in  the  future,  if  we  confound  our 
mode  of  explanatory  comment  with  the  truth  of  the  doctrine 
itself,  and  claim  that  the  mysterious  fact  of  the  Atonement 
means  exactly  that  which  is  our  own    best  approach  to  a 
statement,  in  illustrative  words,  of  what  it  expresses  to  us. 

But  it  may  be  asked,  Are  you  not  saying  too  much? 
Does  not  this  seem  to  mean  that  the  doctrines  themselves 
are  little  better  than  unintelligible  symbols,  which  need  not 

252  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

indeed  be  changed  for  the  simple  reason  that  they  can  be 
made  to  mean  whatever  is  necessary  to  suit  the  times  ?  No, 
the  truth  of  them  does  not  change  ;  and  even  the  changeful 
modes  of  presenting  them  are  less  changeful,  after  all,  than 
they  seem.  They  cannot  indefinitely  vary ;  there  is  one 
thing  which  unites  them  all,  and  that  is  the  truth  itself  which 
lies  behind  them  all.  The  Atonement  is  a  fact,  whether  I 
can  adequately  expound  it  or  no.  The  Atonement  is  a  fact, 
which  my  attempted  expositions  do  indeed  represent,  more  or 
less  correctly,  more  or  less  clumsily,  even  when  I  seem  most 
to  have  failed.  Much  as  they  may  seem  to  differ,  and  in- 
consistent as  they  may  appear  with  each  other,  yet  not  one 
of  them  really  represents  untruth  but  truth.  Imperfect 
images  they  may  be,  and  in  respect  of  their  imperfections, 
diverse  and  distorting  ;  yet  there  is  not  one  of  the  theories  of 
Atonement  referred  to  above— not  even  such  as  are  now  seen  to 
contain  most  error — which  did  not,  as  seriously  held,  represent 
and  convey  some  real  image  of  the  truth.  It  may  be  that 
the  truth  which  they  represented  was  conveyed  in  an  inexact 
way ;  and  that  afterwards,  when  attention  was  concentrated 
on  the  points  of  inexactness,  the  statement  became,  and 
would  have  become,  more  and  more  misleading;  it  was  no 
longer  then  a  possible  vehicle  of  truth  ;  but  what  it  had 
really  conveyed  to  those  to  whom  it  was  living,  was  a  real 
soul-enlightening  image  of  the  truth  of  the  Atonement.  It 
was  an  imperfect  image ;  it  was  even  in  part  a  distorted 
image, — as  everything  that  I  see  through  my  window  is  in 
part  distorted.  But  it  was  a  real  image  of  the  real  truth 
none  the  less. 

Local  and  popular  modes  of  exposition  then  are  often 
as  the  medium  through  which  dogmatic  truth  is  seen  and 
apprehended,  —  not  always,  certainly,  without  distortion. 
But  the  more  catholic  the  truth,  the  more  it  retains  its 
identity  of  form,  however  remote  from  each  other,  in  place 
or  time,  the  diverse  types  of  mind  which  view  and  teach  it, 
so  much  the  purer  must  it  be  from  accidental  or  temporary 
conditionings  ;  so  much  the  nearer,  in  rank,  to  a  fundamental 
doctrine  of  the  Catholic  Church. 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     253 

We  do  not,  of  course,  distinguish  Catholic  dogma  from 
theological  literature,  as  though  the  one  were  bare  facts,  and 
the  other  all  explanations  of  the  facts.  But  we  may  rightly 
confine  the  use  of  the  word  '  dogma '  to  the  fundamental  facts, 
together  with  such  explanation  of  them  as  the  Church  has 
agreed,  by  universal  instinct,  or  by  dogmatic  decree  en- 
dorsed through  ecumenical  acceptance,  to  be  essential  to  a 
reasonable  apprehension  of  the  facts. 

It  is  the  more  important  to  guard  with  unfaltering  clearness 
this  distinction  between  dogma  on  the  one  hand,  and  theo- 
logical literature  on  the  other,  because  it  is,  no  doubt,  in  the 
sphere  of  explanatory  theories  and  expressions,  that  most  of 
those  controversies  find  their  place,  which  distress  quiet  minds, 
and  rouse  hot  battles  of  orthodoxy  between  sincere  Christian 
combatants.  If  it  could  be  recognised  at  the  time  how  far  the 
apparent  innovators  of  successive  generations  were  really  ques- 
tioning not  the  doctrines  themselves,  but  certain  traditional 
modes  of  thought  and  teaching  which  have  wrongly  ad- 
hered to  the  doctrines,  there  would  be  fewer  accusations  of 
heterodoxy,  and  less  distress  and  perplexity  amongst  the 
orthodox.  But  it  is  natural  enough  that  this  should  not  be 
perceived  by  the  defenders,  when  the  innovators  themselves 
are  so  often  both  blind  and  indifferent  to  it.  And  it  is  just 
herein  that  the  different  innovators  are  apt  to  make  them- 
selves indefensible.  Too  often  they  think  that  they  are 
making  real  advance  upon  the  doctrines  of  the  Church  and 
her  Creeds,  and  they  are  elated,  instead  of  being  ashamed,  at 
the  thought.  They  make  light  of  loyalty,  they  despise  the 
birthright  of  their  Churchmanship,  and  find  their  own  self- 
exaltation  in  the  very  consciousness  of  offending  their 
brethren.  This,  whether  done  under  provocation  or  no,  is  to 
depart  from  the  spirit  of  the  Church  of  Christ,  in  temper  and 
meaning  at  least. — even  though  their  work  in  the  long  run 
should  prove  (as  it  must  so  far  as  there  is  truth  in  it)  only  to 
serve  the  interest  and  work  of  the  Church. 

It  is  easier  to  see  this  in  retrospect  than  in  struggle.  But 
perhaps  those  who  look  back  upon  the  struggles  of  the  last 
generation  within  the  Church,  will  recognise  that  the  orthodox 

254  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

thought  of  the  present  day  has  been  not  a  little  cleared  and 
served,  not  merely  by  the  work  of  orthodox  defence,  but  in  no 
small  part  by  the  work  of  the  '  liberalizers '  also.  To  say 
this,  is  by  no  means  necessarily  to  acquit  the  liberalizers,  or  to 
cast  a  slur  upon  those  who  fought  against  them.  Such  con- 
demnations or  acquittals  depend  upon  other  considerations, 
which  do  not  concern  us  here.  But  putting  wholly  aside  as 
irrelevant  all  condemnation  or  acquittal  of  individuals,  we 
may  yet  acknowledge  that  the  work  done  has  in  the  end 
served  the  cause  of  the  truth  and  the  Church.  This  is 
said,  of  course,  of  its  real  intellectual  outcome ;  certainly 
not  of  the  unsettling  of  souls  by  the  way.  And  it  is 
also  to  be  noted  that  even  when  the  fruit  of  their  work  has 
been  in  a  real  sense,  after  all,  accepted  and  incorporated,  it  is 
hardly  ever  in  the  sense,  and  never  quite  with  the  results, 
which  they,  so  far  as  they  had  allowed  themselves  to  be  mal- 
contents, had  supposed.  But  if  whatever  is  good  and  true  in 
their  work  becomes,  after  all,  an  element  in  the  conscious- 
ness of  the  Church,  might  not  the  work  itself  have  been 
done,  all  along,  in  perfect  Church  loyalty  ?  In  so  far  as 
different  earnest  writers  of  a  generation  ago,  or  of  to-day, 
are  really,  whether  consciously  or  not,  making  a  contribution 
to  one  of  the  great  theological  tasks  of  our  time,  in  so  far  (that 
is)  as  they  are  helping  towards  the  correction  of  erroneous 
fancies  of  popular  theology, — helping,  for  instance,  to  modify 
that  superstitious  over-statement  about  'justification'  which 
would  really  leave  no  meaning  in  '  righteousness  ; '  or  to  limit 
the  grossness  of  the  theory  often  represented  by  the  word 
'  imputation ; '  or  to  rebuke  the  nervous  selfishness  of  reli- 
gionists whose  one  idea  of  the  meaning  of  religion  was  '  to  be 
saved ;'  or  to  qualify  the  materialism  or  superstition  of  ignorant 
sacramentalists ;  or  to  banish  dogmatic  realisms  about  hell,  or 
explications  of  atonement  which  malign  God's  Fatherhood ; 
or  the  freezing  chill  and  paralysis  of  all  life  supposed  before 
now  to  be  necessarily  involved  in  the  Apostolic  words  'pre- 
destination' and  'election;'  so  far  they  are  really,  though  it 
may  be  from  the  outside  and  very  indirectly,  doing  the  work 
of  the  Church.  But  the  pity  of  it  is  that  the  men  who  do 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     255 

this  kind  of  service  are  so  apt  to  spoil  it,  by  overvaluing 
themselves  and  forgetting  the  loveliness  and  the  power  of 
perfect  subordination  to  the  Church.  We  may  own  that  Church 
people  and  Church  rulers  have  too  often  been  the  stumbling- 
block.  It  is  they  who  again  and  again  have  seemed  to  fight 
against  everything,  and  by  intellectual  apathy,  and  stern  moral 
proscription  of  every  form  of  mental  difficulty  (wherein  often- 
times are  the  birth-throes  of  enlightenment)  to  drive  living 
and  growing  intelligence  out  of  the  Church.  It  is  true  that 

o  o  o 

the  greatest  of  Churchmen  would,  if  the  badge  of  their  work 
were  submissiveness,  have  sometimes  to  wait  awhile,  and  bear 
delay,  and  wrong  from  inferior  minds,  with  the  patience  of 
humility.  Yes  ;  but  that  work  of  theirs,  if  it  once  were 
stamped  with  this  seal  of  patient  submissiveness,  would  be  a 
glory  to  the  Church  for  ever,  like  the  work  of  her  quiet 
confessors,  the  work  of  a  Scupoli,  a  Ken,  or  a  Fenelon ; 
instead  of  being,  as  it  more  often  seems  to  be,  a  great 
offending  and  perplexing  of  thousands  of  the  very  consciences 
which  deserve  to  be  treated  most  tenderly,  and  therefore  also 
a  wrong  and  a  loss  to  the  conscience  and  character  of  the 

Are  statements  like  these  a  concession  to  the  antidogmatist  ? 
If  so,  they  are  one  to  which,  in  the  name  of  truth,  he  is 
heartily  welcome.  And  perhaps,  under  the  same  high  sanc- 
tion we  may  add  what  will  look,  to  some  minds,  like  another. 
We  claimed  some  time  since  that  the  Creed  must  be,  to 
Christians,  rather  a  complete  and  conclusive  than  a  partial  or 
a  tentative  statement  of  truth.  Yet  there  is  one  sense  in 
which  we  may  own  that  even  the  definitions  of  the  Creeds  may 
themselves  be  called  relative  and  temporary.  For  we  must 
not  claim  for  phrases  of  earthly  coinage  a  more  than  earthly 
and  relative  completeness.  The  Creeds  are  temporary,  in  that 
they  are  a  complete  and  sufficient  statement  of  truth  only 
for  time.  And  therefore  they  are  only  quite  perfectly  adequate 
to  express  those  truths  which  have  their  place  in  time.  But 
we,  in  respect  of  truths  which  transcend  time,  if  we  cannot 
as  yet  be  freed  from  the  trammels  and  limits  of  earthly 
thought  and  expression,  yet  can  recognise  at  least  the  fact, 

256  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

that  we  are,  even  in  our  Creeds,  still  labouring  within  those 
trammels.  We  may  have  ground  for  believing  the  Creeds  of 
the  Church  to  be  the  most  perfectly  balanced  and  harmonious 
expression  of  the  truth  whereof  our  earthly  knowledge  is,  or 
will  be,  capable.  Yet  when  we  struggle,  as  in  the  lano-uao-e 

OO  O          O 

of  the  Athanasian  Creed,  to  express  the  relations  which 
have  been  exhibited  to  us  in  the  eternal  Godhead  through 
the  use  of  the  words  '  Person '  and  '  Substance,'  or  imoirraa-ts 
and  owlet ;  or  when  we  thus  profess  our  belief  in  the  Person 
of  the  Holy  Ghost,  '  The  Holy  Ghost  is  of  the  Father  and  of 
the  Son :  neither  made,  nor  created,  nor  begotten,  but  pro- 
ceeding,' need  we  fear  to  own  that  the  instruments  which, 
perforce,  we  make  use  of  upon  earth,  even  in  the  Creeds  of 
the  Church,  are  necessarily  imperfect  instruments  ;  the  power 
of  conception  imperfect;  the  power  of  phrase  and  imagery 
imperfect  also ;  and  that  their  sufficiency  of  truth  (though 
not  their  correctness  meanwhile)  is  so  far  temporary  that  it 
is  limited  to  earth  and  to  time ;  and  that,  in  the  perfect  light 
and  knowledge  of  the  presence  of  God,  the  perfectest  know- 
ledge represented  by  them  will  be  superseded  and  absorbed, 
while  the  glosses  and  materialisms  with  which,  in  various 
ways,  we  may  have  been  unconsciously  clothing  them  to  our 
own  imaginations,  will  be — not  superseded  only  but  corrected, 
and,  it  may  be,  reproved  ?  Moreover,  if  the  truths  represented 
in  the  Creeds  are  wider  and  deeper  than  our  conceptions  of 
them,  we  can  admit  that  there  may  possibly  be  particulars 
in  which,  even  now,  the  experience  of  spiritual  life  may 
deepen  and  enlarge  the  meaning,  to  us,  of  our  Creeds ;  as,  for 
instance,  the  words  heaven  and  hell  may  present  to  us  ideas 
differing,  in  the  direction  of  more  correctness,  from  those 
which  they  presented  to  some  of  our  forefathers.  It  is  not 
that  the  Creeds  will  be  some  day  corrected.  It  is  not 
that  we  shall  see  hereafter  how  false  they  were,  but  how 
far  the  best  conceptions  which  they  opened  to  us, — the 
best,  that  is,  that  our  earthly  faculties  were  capable 
of,  lagged  in  their  clumsiness  behind  the  perfect  apprehen- 
sion of  the  truths  which  they  had,  nevertheless,  not  untruly 
represented ;  but  which  we  then  shall  have  power  to  see  and 

vi.     The  Incarnation .  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     257 

know  as  they  are.  The  truth  which  is  dimly  imaged  for  us 
in  the  Creeds,  will  never  belie,  but  will  infinitely  transcend, 
what  their  words  represented  on  earth. 

But  it  will  very  naturally  be  asked  by  what  right  we  speak 
thus  of  the  Creeds.  In  the  very  moment  of  admitting,  in 
one  sense,  their  incompleteness  and  want  of  finality,  by  what 
right  do  we  lay  down  still  that  they  are  final  and  complete 
to  the  end  of  time ;  that  is,  perhaps,  through  ages  of  human 
advance,  of  which  we  may  have  now  no  conception  at  all  ? 
Such  a  question  does  not  apply  to  the  strictly  historical  state- 
ments which  constitute  the  foundation  of  our  creed,  but  to 
those  interpretations  of  historical  fact,  and  to  those  assertions 
about  the  Divine  Being  and  its  relations,  which  necessarily 
transcend  time  and  experience.  And  after  all,  perhaps,  the 
answer  is  not  difficult.  We  have  to  consider,  first,  that  for 
the  very  reason  that  these  beliefs  do  absolutely  transcend 
time  and  experience,  therefore  no  human  development  which 
belongs  merely  to  time  and  experience,  can,  in  itself,  displace 
or  improve  upon  them ;  and  secondly,  that  our  knowledge 
of  these  truths  is  really  derived  from  a  Divine  revelation, 
which  took  place,  as  we  believe,  within  time  and  experience. 
We  may  say,  indeed,  that  the  statements  of  this  Divine  reve- 
lation are  corroborated  to  us,  by  such  elements  of  thought  as 
our  reason  (which  we  believe  to  be  also  in  its  reality  Divine) 
is  able  to  supply.  It  remains,  however,  that  they  can  only 
really  be  proved  or  disproved,  by  arguments  which  go  to 
prove  or  disprove  the  truth  of  the  historical  Incarnation,  and 
of  the  revelations  which  it  contains. 

It  follows  from  hence  that  we  have  a  valid  right  to  hold 
them  not  only  true,  but  final  in  their  statement  of  truth  for 
this  present  world,  exactly  so  far  as  we  have  a  right  to 
believe  that  our  historical  revelation  is,  for  time,  a  final 
one.  Should  there,  indeed,  be  a  wholly  fresh  revelation,  the 
amount  of  truth  hitherto  revealed  might  be  superseded ;  but 
nothing  short  of  a  revelation  can  supersede  it.  The  idea  that 
any  advance  of  human  reason  could  be  inconsistent  with  it, 
involves  for  the  Christian  who  believes  human  reason  to  be 
divinely  reflected  and  divinely  implanted,  nothing  less  than 


258  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

an  unthinkable  contradiction.  We  may  therefore  believe  it 
in  any  case  to  be  final,  till  the  coming  of  a  further  revelation : 
and  so  far  as  there  is  anything  in  the  truth  already  revealed 
to  us,  which  may  warrant  us  in  feeling  confident  that 
there  is  no  fresh  revelation  in  store,  within  the  limits  of 
time,  by  which  the  revelation  of  Jesus  Christ  will  be  super- 
seded, just  so  far  and  no  further  are  we  justified  in  claim- 
ing for  those  clauses  in  the  Creed,  whose  subject-matter 
transcends  time  and  experience,  that  they  are  the  com- 
pletest  expressions  of  their  truths  which  can  be  reached  in 

IV.  It  may,  perhaps,  be  a  matter  of  prudence  to  refer  for  a 
moment  to  what  are  called  the  '  damnatory  clauses '  of  the 
Athanasian  Creed ;  though  it  would  not  be  necessary  to  do 
so  for  the  purpose  of  any  positive  statement  or  explanation 
of  Christian  doctrine.  These  clauses,  however,  to  the  positive 
statement  add  a  negative.  It  is  easy  to  misunderstand  them, 
and  even,  by  misrepresenting,  to  make  them  appear  gro- 
tesque. But  if  the  question  be  as  to  what  they  really  mean, 
they  are,  after  all,  to  the  Christian,  an  obvious  and  necessary 
corollary  of  the  Creed  which  is  his  life.  There  is  but  One 
God,  and  One  Heaven,  and  One  Salvation  ;  not  a  choice  of  alter- 
native salvations,  or  heavens,  or  gods.  There  is  One  Incar- 
nation, One  Cross,  One  Divine  restoring  and  exalting  of 
humanity.  There  is  One  Spirit  of  God,  One  Church — the 
fabric  and  the  method  of  the  working  of  the  Spirit, — One 
Spiritual  Covenant  with  man.  Man  must  have  part  in  this 
One,  or  he  has  part  in  none  ;  for  there  is  no  other.  Man  must 
have  knowledge  of  this  One,  belief  in  this  One ;  or  there  is 
none  for  him  to  believe  in  or  to  know.  God's  covenant  is 
with  His  Church  on  earth  ;  and  the  statements  of  the  Creed 
are  the  representation  in  words  of  that  knowledge  of  the 
truth  which  the  Church  possesses,  the  possession  of  which  is 
her  life.  The  Athanasian  Creed  is  not  addressed  to  outsiders, 
but  to  those  who  are  within  the  Church.  For  encouragement, 
or  (if  necessary)  for  warning,  it  insists  to  them  on  the  uniqueness 
of  their  faith.  To  have  hold  on  God  is  to  have  hold  on  Life. 
To  revolt  from  God  is  to  revolt  from  Life.  This  is  so,  to 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     259 

those  who  have  or  ought  to  have  learnt  that  it  is  so,  both  in 
fact  and  in  thought.  Thus,  in  fact,  to  drop  out  of  communion 
with  the  Incarnation  of  Christ,  is  to  drop  out  of  communion 
with  the  inner  realities  and  possibilities  of  humanity.  But 
the  mind,  and  its  convictions  and  meanings,  cannot  wholly  be 
separated  from  the  facts  of  the  life.  There  comes,  at  least  in 
most  lives,  a  time  when  the  man's  own  allegiance  to  the  facts 
is  a  necessary  condition  of  his  identification  with  them.  '  If 
ye  believe  not  that  I  am  He,  ye  shall  die  in  your  sins.' 
There  comes  a  point  at  which  the  mind's  refusal  of  the  doc- 
trines of  religion  is  the  man's  revolt  from  the  facts  ;  and  such 
a  revolt  is  repudiation  of  the  One  revelation  of  God,  the  One 
Incarnation,  the  One  Salvation,  the  One  Church  or  Covenant. 
This  must  be  broadly  true,  true  in  the  abstract,  as  principle, 
unless  truth  and  falsehood,  right  and  wrong,  are  fundamentally 
false  distinctions,  and  every  man  is  to  be  equally  good,  and 
equally  compelled  to  heaven.  At  what  point  any  individual 
p:vson,  or  class  of  persons,  does,  or  does  not,  in  the  sight  of 
the  Judge  who  knows  the  whole  inward  history,  and  tries 
the  most  secret  motive,  fall  within  the  scope  of  this  principle, 
and  incur  the  final  condemnation  of  rebellion  against  the  one 
light  and  hope  of  all  humanity,  is  another  question  altogether. 
Any  such  application  of  the  principle  to  the  case  of  individuals 
belongs  only  to  God  the  Judge,  and  would  be  an  arrogant  im- 
piety in  any  man.  Even  when  such  a  question  may  have  to 
be  determined  ecclesiastically,  the  ecclesiastical  condemnation 
and  sentence,  though  expressly  representing  in  shadow  the 
eternal  sentence,  is  none  the  less  quite  distinct,  and  indeed 
in  its  ultimate  motive  even  contrasted  with  it.  But  however 
unchristian  it  may  be  to  say  that  A  or  B  will  perish  ever- 
lastingly, the  principle  nevertheless  is  true,  that  the  truth 
which  the  Creed  embodies,  the  truth  of  which  Christ's  In- 
carnation is  the  pivot  and  centre,  is  the  only  deliverance  from 
everlasting  perishing  ;  and  that  whole-hearted  union  and 
communion  with  this  truth,  is  that  true  state  of  Church  life 
which  alone  has  the  certain  seal  of  the  covenant  of  God. 
This  broad  truth  it  is,  the  necessary  complement  of  any  hold- 
ing of  the  Christian  creed  as  true,  which  these  clauses  affirm. 

s  2, 

260  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

If  it  be  said,  '  your  Athanasian  Creed  is  simple  and  tren- 
chant ;  it  has  no  qualifications  such  as  you  admit ' ;  our  reply 
would  be  threefold.  First,  the  Creed  is  part  of  our  heritage 
from  the  past,  and  its  phraseology  is  not  our  handiwork ; 
but  we  know  that  the  necessary  qualifications  with  which 
we  understand  its  phraseology  have  been  generally  recognised 
by  the  Church  from  which  we  inherit  it.  Secondly,  the 
Quicunque  vult  is,  strictly,  not  so  much  a  creed  as  a  canticle  ; 
it  has  never  been  used  as  a  test  of  Church  communion ;  and 
it  speaks,  on  a  point  like  this,  as  the  Te  Deum  would  speak, 
in  the  language  not  of  judicial  award  but  of  devotional 
loyalty.  Thirdly,  the  qualifications  with  which  we  say  that 
any  generalisation  about  man's  responsibility  for  belief, 
whether  in  this  '  canticle '  or  in  scripture,  must  necessarily 
be  understood,  are  only  such  as  all  men  apply  to  any  similar 
generalisation  about  responsibility  for  conduct.  '  If  ye  be- 
lieve not  that  I  am  He,  ye  shall  die  in  your  sins,'  is  paralleled 
by  '  They  which  do  such  things  shall  not  inherit  the  kingdom 
of  God.'  We  claim  only  to  interpret  the  one  as  rationally  as 
all  men  understand  the  other. 

It  has  seemed  to  be  desirable,  while  insisting  upon  the 
claims  of  dogma,  not  indeed  in  the  name  of  allegiance  to 
imposed  authority,  but  in  the  name  of  truth,  and  on  the  ground 
of  its  simple  identity  with  truth,  to  try  to  state,  with  the  utmost 
possible  plainness,  whatever  could  be  truly  admitted  in  the 
way  of  apparent  qualification  of  those  claims.  Truth  is 
supreme,  and  eternal ;  and  dogma,  so  far  as  it  coincides  with 
truth,  is,  of  course,  all  that  truth  is.  For  the  dogmatic  posi- 
tion of  the  Church  and  her  Creeds,  we  claim  that  it  is  the 
true  and  simple  expression  upon  earth  of  the  highest  truth 
that  is,  or  can  be,  known.  But  dogmatic  theologians  are  not 
infallible,  and  so  far  as  the  name  of  dogma  has  been  claimed 
for  mistaken  presumption  or  misleading  statement  of  truth, 
so  far  may  dogma  have  seemed  to  fight  against  truth.  The 
words,  indeed,  'dogmatic'  and '  dogmatism'  have  acquired  a  bad 
reputation.  But  this  is  not  the  fault  of  dogma.  A  dogmatist, 
in  the  invidious  sense  of  the  word,  does  not  mean  one  who 
studies  dogma,  but  rather  one  who  foolishly  utters  what  are 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     261 

not  dogmas  as  if  they  were.  The  dogmatic  temper  is  the 
temper  of  one  who  is  imperiously  confident  that  he  is  right 
when  he  is  not.  That  is  to  say,  the  words  dogma,  dogmatic, 
dogmatize,  etc.,  are  commonly  used  of  something  which  is  the 
mere  abuse  and  travesty  of 'their  proper  meaning.  It  is  hard 
that  dogma  itself  should  be  prejudiced  by  this  caricaturing 
misuse  of  its  name. 

Meanwhile,  if  real  charges  be  brought  against  any  part  of 
our  dogmatic  creed,  we  are  willing  most  honestly  to  examine 
into  them.  In  so  far  as  they  are  made  against  current 
suppositions,  which  are  separable  from  our  essential  belief,  — 
separable  as,  for  example,  we  now  see  various  details  of  tradi- 
tional belief  about  the  first  chapter  of  Genesis  to  be  separable 
— we  join  our  critics  in  the  examination  with  a  mind  as  open 
as  they  could  desire.  And  it  must,  in  simple  candour,  be 
admitted  further,  that  upon  the  appearance  of  any  new  form 
of  thought,  Churchmen  have  not  generally  been  quick  of  mind 
to  discriminate  the  essential  from  the  non-essential,  so  as  to 
receive  at  first,  with  any  openness  of  mind,  what  they  had 
afterwards  to  admit  that  they  might  have  received  from  the 
first.  But  not  even  this  admission  must  prevent  us  from 
claiming,  that  when  that  to  which  exception  is  taken  does 
really  belong  to  the  essential  truths  of  our  creed,  which  to  us 
are  more  absolutely  established  certainties  than  anything  in 
heaven  and  earth  besides,  they  must  pardon  us  if,  while  we 
are  still  willing  to  give  the  most  candid  hearing  possible  to 
everything  that  they  have  to  urge,  we  yet  cannot,  if  we 
would,  divest  ourselves  of  the  deepest  certainties  of  our  exist- 
ence ; — cannot  therefore  pretend  to  argue  with  more  openness 
of  mind  than  would  scientific  professors — say  with  a  cham- 
pion who  undertook  to  prove  that  the  globe  was  flat,  or  that 
the  sun  went  round  the  earth.  We  are  ready  to  listen  to 
everything.  We  are  fully  prepared  to  find  that  the  champion 
may  produce  in  evidence  some  phenomena  which  we  shall  be 
unable  to  account  for.  We  have  found  it  before ;  we  are 
not  unaccustomed  to  finding  it  (though,  in  good  time,  the 
perplexity  always  unravels  itself) ;  and  we  shall  be  in  no  way 
disconcerted  if  we  find  it  again.  But  we  cannot  pretend 

262  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

meanwhile  to  hold  all  the  truth  which  our  consciences  have 
known  in  suspense. 

V.  What  was  said  just  now  about  the  Creeds  will  not,  it  is 
hoped,  appear  to  any  minds  to  fail  in  the  entire  respect  which 
if  due  to  them.  Yet  it  makes  it,  perhaps,  the  more  incum- 
bent upon  us  to  take  notice  of  another  form  of  attack  upon 
dogma,  which  connects  itself  with  an  attitude  about  the 

O  " 

Creeds,  such  as  may  seem  at  first  sight  to  be  not  wholly 
dissimilar ;  though  presently  all  the  foundations  of  dogma 
are  dissolved  by  it.  But  in  point  of  fact,  if  we  admit  that 
what  the  Creeds  mean  on  earth,  is  less  than  what  the  same 
truths  will  mean  in  heaven,  or  that  there  may  be,  even 
here,  a  clumsier,  and  a  completer,  understanding  of  them  ; 
this  is  a  position  essentially  different  from  maintaining 
that  what  the  Creeds  both  say  and  mean,  is  not  only 
less  than,  but  (if  strictly  taken)  inconsistent  with,  the 
real  truth ;  and  that  not  in  any  transcendent  sense,  as 
celestial  beings,  with  wholly  other  faculties,  may  conceiv- 
ably have  power  of  apprehending  it  in  heaven,  but  as  the 
more  intelligent  among  us  may,  and  do,  see  it  now.  This 
is  not  only  to  admit  that  the  Creeds  are  built  up,  perforce,  of 
materials  which  belong  to  this  earth  ;  but  to  treat  them  as 
mere  serviceable  fictions  for  the  teaching  of  the  uncivilized 
or  the  young.  The  deliberate  unbeliever,  indeed,  assumes 
that  the  Creeds  mean  what  they  say,  and  that  the  Church 
understands  the  Creeds.  Assuming  this,  he  parts  company 
with  the  Church,  because  he  holds  that  the  statements  of  her 
Creeds  are,  in  fact,  fictitious.  But  it  may  surprise  us  to  find 
that  there  is  another  form  of  this  view  of  the  fictitiousness  of 
Creeds,  and  that  here  the  critic  speaks,  not  at  all  in  the 
character  of  an  unbeliever,  but  rather  in  that  of  an  enlight- 
ened Churchman.  All  Christian  truth,  he  says,  is  true.  Even 
the  Creeds  in  a  real  sense  represent  the  truth.  But  the 
Church's  understanding  and  expression  of  Christian  truth  in 
the  Creeds,  is,  none  the  less,  strictly,  a  misrepresentation  of  the 
truth.  Though  the  truth  of  Christ  lies  behind  the  Church's 
Creeds,  yet  they  have  so  overlaid,  and  thereby,  in  strict  speech, 
misstated  it,  that  it  is  only  the  patience  of  criticism,  which 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     263 

cutting  bravely  adrift  from  the  authority  of  traditional  in- 
terpretation, has  succeeded  in  discriminating  between  the 
Creeds  and  the  meaning  of  the  Creeds,  and  behind  what  are 
practically  the  fictions  of  dogmatic  Christianity,  has  re-dis- 
covered the  germs  of  Christian  truth.  Neither  the  facts  of 
the  life  of  Jesus  Christ,  nor  His  teaching,  nor  His  consciousness 
in  regard  of  Himself,  were  as  we  have  been  taught,  but  were 
something  different.  He  never  thought  nor  taught  of  Himself 
as  personally  God,  nor  did  He  perform  any  miracles,  nor  did 
He  rise  on  the  third  day  from  the  dead.  Whatever  scrip- 
tures state  these  things  explicitly,  are  proved  by  that  very 
fact  to  be  glosses  or  errors.  And  yet,  all  the  while,  every- 
thing is  true  spiritually.  The  record  of  the  Incarnate  Life  is 
true  literally,  it  may  be,  at  comparatively  few  points  ;  cer- 
tainly not  the  story  of  the  Birth  ;  certainly  not  the  story  of 
the  Resurrection ;  certainly  not  any  incident  which  involves, 
or  any  expression  which  implies,  miracle.  But  the  Birth,  the 
Resurrection,  the  miracles,  every  one  of  them,  represent,  in 
the  most  splendid  of  imaginative  language  and  portraiture, 
essential  spiritual  truths.  They  are  fictions,  but  vivid  repre- 
sentations, in  fiction,  of  fact;  splendid  truths,  therefore,  so 
long  as  they  are  understood  to  be  literally  fictitious,  but  per- 
versions of  truth,  if  taken  for  truth  of  fact. 

It  is  this  conception  which  was  set  forth  not  long  ago  with 
a  singular  power  and  persuasiveness  by  the  author  of  The 
Kernel  and  the  Husk.  The  lofty  level  of  thought,  the 
restraint  and  felicity  of  language,  above  all  the  deeply  religious 
spirit  of  the  author,  invest  his  arguments  with  a  charm  of 
unusual  attractiveness.  The  arguments  are  not  such  as  it  is 
wholly  pleasant  to  see  thus  recommended.  He  deals  in 
detail,  in  the  course  of  the  volume,  with  much  of  the  narra- 
tive of  Scripture,  with  the  purpose  of  shewing  how  one  by 
one  the  various  records,  including  of  course  the  Birth  and 
Resurrection,  have  grown  to  their  present  form  out  of  realities 
which  contained  no  miracle,  and  which  therefore  differed 
essentially  from  the  historical  scriptures  and  faith  of  the 

It  is  no  part  of  our  task  to  enter  upon  such  details.     Nor 

264  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

is  it  necessary.  The  struggle  against  such  a  theory  of  Chris- 
tianity will  not  be  fought  out  on  details.  It  may  be  conceded 
that  many  of  the  miracles,  taken  singly,  can  easily  be  made 
to  fall  in  with  conjectural  theories  as  to  a  mythical  origin,  if 
only  the  antecedent  conviction  against  their  reality  as  miracles 
be  cogent  enough  really  to  require  that  the  necessary  force 
should  be  put  upon  the  evidence.  Some  indeed  may  lend 
themselves  to  the  process  with  a  facility  which  fairly  surprises 
us.  Others  seem  still  to  be  very  obstinate,  and  force  the 
rationalizer  into  strange  hypotheses.  But  after  all,  the  real 
question,  through  one  and  all,  is  not  how  easily  this  or  that 
miracle  can  be  made,  by  squeezing  of  evidence,  to  square  with 
a  rationalizing  hypothesis ;  but  what  is  the  strength  of  the 
argument  for  the  rationalizing  hypothesis  itself,  which  is  the 
warrant  for  squeezing  the  evidence  at  all. 

The  Evangelists  say  that  Jesus  taught  in  the  synagogue  at 
Capernaum.  Our  author  takes  for  granted  that  He  did  so. 
The  Evangelists  say  that  Jesus  miraculously  multiplied  loaves 
and  fishes  in  the  wilderness.  Our  author  takes  for  granted 
that  He  did  not  so.  Now  why  this  contrast1?  Incidentally, 
indeed,  it  may  be  remarked  that  on  the  author's  own  general 
method,  this  multiplication  of  loaves  ought  to  be  one  of  the 
most  certain  facts  in  the  life  of  Christ,  as  it  is  emphasized  in 
every  Gospel.  But  this  is  by  the  way.  The  real  ground  of 
the  contrast  in  the  treatment  of  the  same  evidence  is  a  certain 
prior  conviction  with  which  the  evidence  is  approached. 
Now  we  are  not  contending  that  any  such  sifting  of  evidence 
in  the  light  of  prior  tests  is  inadmissible.  On  the  contrary, 
there  is  hardly  anyone  who  does  not,  on  a  similar  principle, 
explain  the  differences  (for  example)  in  the  accounts  of  the 
title  upon  the  Cross,  or  the  difficulty  as  to  whether  Jesus 
healed  one  blind  man  or  two,  on  the  way  into,  or  out  from, 
Jericho  ;  but  we  do  say  that  the  admissibleness  of  such 
a  method  of  interpreting  absolutely  depends  upon  the  cer- 
tainty of  the  correctness  of  the  prior  conviction  itself. 

The  various  details  of  ingenuity,  then,  with  which  he 
explains  away  particular  incidents,  are  to  us  of  quite  sub- 
ordinate interest.  Everything  depends  upon  the  cogency  of 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     265 

the  grounds  for  explaining  away  at  all.  A  large  part  of  the 
book  is  occupied  in  explaining  away  the  facts  of  Christianity, 
as  the  Christian  Church  has  hitherto  understood  them  ;  an 
explaining  away  which  may  be  more  or  less  necessary,  more 
or  less  satisfactory,  if  the  premisses  which  require  it  are  once 
admitted ;  but  which  certainly  is  wholly  unnecessary,  and 
wholly  unsatisfactory,  if  those  premisses  are  denied. 

The  prior  conviction  in  the  book  in  question  is  that  miracles 
neither  do,  nor  did,  happen  in  fact,  and  therefore  that  any 
narrative  which  involves  them  is  incredible.  All  the  ingenui- 
ties of  conjecture  on  individual  points  become  relevant  subse- 
quently to,  and  in  reliance  upon,  this  underlying  principle. 
Admit  this,  and  they  are  forthwith  interesting  and  valuable. 
Deny  this,  and  they  lose  their  importance  at  once.  It  is  the 
pressure  of  this  prior  conviction  which  seems  to  give  life  and 
force  to  a  number  of  suggestions,  about  other  stories,  and 
particularly  about  that  of  the  Resurrection,  which,  apart  from 
this  animating  conviction,  would  be  felt  to  be  very  lifeless ; 
and  to  a  total  experiment  of  subjective  reconstruction,  which, 
but  for  the  strength  of  the  antecedent  conviction,  would  have 
been  impossible  to  men  of  reverent  thought  and  modest 
utterance.  The  teaching  of  the  book  will  therefore  really  be 
accepted  or  the  reverse,  precisely  according  as  the  minds  of 
its  readers  do,  or  do  not,  incline  to  admit  the  hypothesis  upon 
which  it  depends. 

It  is  probable,  indeed,  that  the  author  would  demur  to  this 
statement,  at  least  when  put  so  simply  ;  on  the  ground  that, 
though  he  avows  the  conviction,  yet  he  has  reached  the  con- 
viction itself  by  no  a  priori  road,  but  as  the  result  of  wide 
observation  and  unprejudiced  scrutiny  of  evidence.  Now  it 
is  not  at  all  meant  to  be  asserted  that  the  conviction  against 
miracle  is  itself  reached  merely  by  an  a  priori  method.  No 
doubt  it  has,  in  fact,  been  arrived  at,  in  those  minds  which 
have  fully  arrived  at  it,  not  a  priori,  but  as  the  result  of 
a  great  induction  from  experience ;  practically  indeed,  as  it 
seems  to  them,  from  experience  as  good  as  universal.  The 
weight  of  the  evidence  in  this  direction  is  neither  denied  nor 
forgotten.  Yet  even  when  it  most  impresses  us,  of  course  it 

266  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

is  obvious  still  to  reply  to  ourselves  that  however  powerful 
this  array  of  experience  may  appear  so  long  as  there  are  no 
instances  to  the  contrary,  yet  any  one  contrary  instance  will 
break  at  once  the  cogency  of  the  induction.  The  case  of 
Jesus  Christ  is  put  forward  as  being  unique.  Its  uniqueness 
is  not  really  qualified  by  the  fact  that  some  others,  among 
those  nearest  to  Himself,  were  by  Him  enabled — avowedly  in 
His  power,  not  their  own, — to  do  acts  which  were  impossible 
to  other  men.  This  is  only  a  wider  extension  of  His  unique 
power,  not  a  qualification  of  it.  Against  such  a  case,  put  for- 
ward on  evidence  definite  and  multiform,  and  put  forward  as 
essentially  unique,  an  argument  from  induction  is  no  argu- 
ment at  all.  It  is  a  misnomer  to  call  the  induction  an  argu- 
ment. The  induction,  in  fact,  is  merely  an  observation  that 
other  persons  did  not  perform  similar  miracles ;  and  that,  if 
Jesus  Christ  did  so,  He  was  unique.  But  this  is  no  answer 
to  the  Christian  position.  It  is  part  of  the  position  itself. 

And  so  the  matter  must  be  referred  for  settlement  to  the 
evidence  that  is  actually  forthcoming  about  Jesus  Christ.  But 
it  is  plain  that  the  inductive  presumption  against  miracle, 
derived  from  experience  of  other  men,  must  not  come  in  to 
warp  or  rule  this  evidence.  It  may  be  present  indeed  as 
a  sort  of  cross-examining  counsel,  as  a  consideration  requiring 
that  the  evidence  should  be  most  minutely  scrutinized,  and 
suggesting  all  sorts  of  questions  with  a  view  to  this.  But 
into  the  evidence  itself,  it  cannot  be  permitted  to  intrude. 

Now,  it  is  part  of  our  complaint  against  such  writers  as  the 
author  of  The  Kernel  and  the  Husk,  that  however  much 
their  general  presumption  against  miracle  may  have  been 
inductively  and  patiently  reached ;  yet  when  they  come  to 
deal  with  the  evidence  about  Jesus  Christ,  this  conviction 
(which  ought  to  stand  on  one  side  inquiringly)  becomes 
to  them  an  underlying  postulate ;  it  is  settled  beforehand ; 
it  is  present  with  them  in  their  exegesis,  not  simply  as  a 
motive  for  sifting  the  evidence  carefully,  but  as  a  touchstone 
of  truth  by  which  it  may  all  be  tried.  Probably  the  author 
would  believe  that  he  has  reached  his  conviction  against  the 
miracles  of  Jesus  of  Nazareth,  not  merely  from  a  general 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     267 

induction  as  to  the  absence  of  miracle  in  the  lives  of  others, 
but  also  from  an  unprejudiced  scrutiny  of  the  evidence  of  the 
life  of  Jesus  Christ  Himself.  But  this  is  just  what  we  are 
not  at  all  prepared  to  concede.  On  the  contrary,  we  main- 
tain that  his  scrutiny  is  wholly  prejudiced.  Examine  the 
evidence  with  a  bias  sufficiently  powerful  against  belief  in 
miracle  ;  and  you  may  end  in  the  result  which  this  author 
reaches.  Examine  it  without  such  a  bias  ;  and  you  will  find 
yourself  at  every  turn  protesting  against  his  mode  of  treating 
the  evidence.  It  is  a  scrutiny  of  the  evidence  on  the  basis  of 
the  inadmissibleness  of  miracles,  which  gives  him  that  coherent 
theory  about  the  growth  of  the  Christian  tradition,  and  those 
consequent  principles  of  interpretation  of  the  text  of  the 
Gospels,  which  he  appears  to  regard  as  the  simple  result  of 
the  evidence  itself. 

We  shall  very  likely  be  surprised  to  find  that,  after  all,  the 
abstract  impossibility  of  miracle  is  not  laid  down, — nay,  is 
expressly  disclaimed, — by  him.  Miracle  (if  we  rightly  under- 
stand) is  not  impossible  absolutely, — not  even,  he  adds,  a 
priori  improbable ;  yet  it  is  equivalent  to  an  impossibility, 
because  the  will  of  the  Father  indwelt  wholly  in  Jesus,  and 
because  the  perfect  uniformity  of  natural  processes  as  we 
have  experienced  them,  is,  in  fact,  and  with  no  exceptions, 
the  will  of  the  Father1.  No  general  reflections  upon  our 
dependence,  in  ordinary  life,  on  the  good  faith  of  an  uni- 
form nature,  ought  to  blind  us  to  the  fact  that  this  last 
position  neither  has,  nor  can  have,  any  adequate  ground  at 
all.  It  is  surprising  that  with  so  weak  a  statement  of  the 
impossibility  of  miracle,  the  principle  of  the  impossibility  of 
miracle  should  have  to  bear  the  extraordinary  weight  that 
is  put  upon  it.  Nothing  short  of  a  demonstration  of  this 
impossibility  would  fully  justify  the  critical  position  that  is 
adopted.  For  it  is,  in  fact,  upon  this  impossibility  that  the 
whole  re-reading  of  the  history  is  based. 

It  is  probably  true  that  if  once  the  hypothesis  of  the  im- 
possibility of  miracle  be  accepted  as  practically  certain,  an 
earnest  mind,  penetrated  with  this  as  its  overruling  principle, 

1  See  especially  the  concluding  paragraphs  of  letter  xix. 

268  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

and  dwelling  upon  the  Gospels  always  and  only  in  the  light 
of  this,  will  be  compelled  gradually  to  re-read  in  one  place 
and  re-interpret  in  another,  until  the  whole  has  been,  by 
steps  that  upon  the  hypothesis  were  irresistible,  metamor- 
phosed into  a  form  as  unlike  as  possible,  indeed,  to  what  it 
wore  at  first,  but  still  one  which  can  be  felt  to  be  precious 
and  beautiful.  But  we  are  entitled  to  point  out  how  abso- 
lutely this  re-reading  of  the  evidence  depends  upon  the  truth 
of  the  principle  which  underlies  it.  For  the  sake  of  this, 
all  sorts  of  violence  has  to  be  done  to  what  would  otherwise 
be,  in  one  incident  after  another,  the  obvious  meaning  of 
words,  the  obvious  outcome  of  evidence.  Without  the  cer- 
tainty of  this,  the  new  method  of  reading  must  be  critically 
condemned  as  baseless  and  arbitrary.  This  alone  makes  it 
rationally  possible.  Without  the  strong  cogency  of  this  it 
falls  instantly  to  pieces. 

Now  orthodox  Christians  are  sometimes  accused  of  reading 
their  historical  evidence  in  the  light  of  a  preconception.  They 
begin  with  the  doctrine  of  the  Creed,  and  read  all  records 
of  fact  with  the  conviction  of  that  doctrine  in  their  hearts 
and  consciences.  We  need  not  be  altogether  concerned  to 
combat  this  statement.  Perhaps  few  records  are  read,  or 
would  ever  be  read  intelligently,  except  in  the  light  of  the 
reader's  preconceptions.  But  our  point  is  to  see  clearly  that 
at  all  events  the  new  reading  of  the  Gospel  history  is  itself 
so  entirely  the  outcome  and  creature  of  its  antecedent  prin- 
ciple, that  it  cannot  without  that  hold  together  for  an  instant. 

Let  us  be  content,  for  the  moment,  to  view  the  orthodox 
Christian  and  the  new  rationalist  as  both  alike  really  reading 
the  Gospel  narrative  in  the  light  of  a  preconceived  principle ; 
the  one  viewing  everything  on  the  basis  of  the  perfect 
Divinity  of  the  historical  Jesus  Christ  (with  the  corollary 
that  it  is  impossible  for  us  to  determine  d  priori  what  power 
His  perfect  Humanity — for  which  we  have  no  precedent — 
would,  or  would  not.  naturally  and  necessarily  exhibit) ;  the 
other  viewing  everything  on  the  basis  of  the  absolute  im- 
possibility, or  at  least  the  incredibleness,  of  miracle.  We 
might  point  out  that  the  former  in  his  hypothesis  has  a 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     269 

principle  which  absolutely  fits  and  perfectly  accounts  for 
every  part  of  the  evidence  which  confronts  him ;  while  the 
latter  is  compelled,  by  the  cogency  of  his  principle,  to  recon- 
struct for  himself  almost  every  chapter  of  the  evidence.  And 
if  we  go  one  step  further  back,  and  ask,  what  is  the  antecedent 
reasonableness  of  the  one  hypothesis,  or  of  the  other1?  from 
what  source  is  each  derived1?  We  must  claim  it  as  simple 
fact,  that  the  former  hypothesis  is  itself  the  direct  outcome 
of  the  evidence, — the  inevitable  outcome,  indeed,  so  long  as 
the  evidence  stands:  while  the  other  is,  at  bottom,  an  as- 
sumption, held  absolutely  in  the  teeth  of  the  evidence  actually 
existing  in  respect  of  the  life  and  consciousness  of  Jesus  of 
Nazareth,  and  itself  on  other  grounds  not  merely  unproved, 
but  essentially  incapable  of  proof l. 

But  if  our  hypothesis  is  itself  the  outcome  of  the  evidence, 
and  fits  with  perfect  exactness  into  all  its  intricacies,  then 
we  yield  far  too  much  if  we  treat  it  as  on  the  level  of  a  mere 
preconception.  To  persist  in  reading  the  New  Testament  by 
the  light  of  the  preconception  of  the  dogma  of  Christ's  God- 
head (with  the  corollary  that  no  miracle  is  incredible  as 
miracle),  is  to  be  prejudiced  only  in  the  same  sense  in  which 
the  scientist  is  prejudiced  who  persists  in  studying  the 
records  of  astronomy  in  the  light  of  certain  preconceptions 
as  to  the  parabola  or  the  law  of  gravitation. 

But  what  is  the  case  with  the  other  hypothesis?  By  it 
the  historical  Jesus  Christ  is  swept  away ;  and  another  per- 
sonality, which  does  not  exist  in  the  history  at  all,  but  which 
the  history  has  suggested  to  certain  earnest-minded  critics  of 
our  own  day,  is  substituted  in  His  place.  All  those  who 
witnessed  of  His  words  and  deeds  to  the  Church,  all  those 
whose  witness  the  Church  has  accepted  and  sealed,  are 
thoroughly  mistaken,  mistaken  in  the  very  points  which  to 
them  were  fundamental.  However  honest  they  may  have  been 
in  their  superstitious  ignorance,  they  certainly  bore  to  the  world 
what  was,  in  fact,  false  testimony.  It  is  impressive,  with  a 

1  'The  question  of  miracles  seeing  fessor    Huxley  as    of   the    Duke    of 

now  to  be  admitted  on  all  hands  to  Argyll.    Nineteenth  Century,  April  1887, 

be   simply  a   question   of  evidence.'  p.  483:  cp.  Feb.  1887,  pp.  201,  etc. 
These  are  the  words  as  much  of  Pro- 

270  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

strange  impressiveness,  to  follow  this  hypothesis  through  the 
story  of  Christ's  life ;  and  see  with  what  ingenuity,  often 
plausible,  often  pathetic,  the  old  facts  are  refashioned  to  meet 
the  new  principle. 

Cardinal,  of  course,  in  difficulty  as  in  importance,  is  the 
narrative  of  the  Resurrection ;  that  plain  statement  of  fact, 
to  testify  whereto  was  the  primary  qualification,  and  primary 
function,  of  Apostleship ;  and  which,  from  S.  Peter  and 
S.  Paul  downwards,  has  always  been  recognised  as  cardinal 
to  the  faith  of  the  Church. 

Now  given ;  first,  the  certain  conviction  that  no  miracle 
occurred ;  and  secondly,  a  working  hypothesis  as  to  the 
growth  of  the  Christian  Scriptures,  which  not  only  enables, 
but  requires,  you  to  set  aside,  on  grounds  of  subjective 
criticism,  all  such  evidence  as  seems  to  you  to  be  improbable  ; 
and  it  follows  that,  if  you  are  still  of  a  very  religious  mind, 
you  will  probably  have  to  take  refuge  in  what  may  yet  be 
to  you  the  beautiful  story  of  a  Resurrection  exclusively 

You  must,  of  course,  deal  very  violently  with  the  direct 
evidence.  But  that  is  already  covered  by  the  general  theory 
you  have  reached  as  to  the  historical  genesis  and  value  (or 
lack  of  value)  of  the  books  of  the  New  Testament.  And,  of 
course,  in  adopting  such  a  view  of  the  books  of  the  New 
Testament,  you  are  reducing  to  a  phantasm  the  reality  of 
your  belief  in  the  Holy  Catholic  Church,  which  has  enshrined 
and  consecrated,  as  perfectest  truth,  what  are  really  at  best 
only  fables, — capable,  indeed,  of  clumsily  representing  the 
truth  to  the  childish  or  the  stupid,  but  beginning  to  be  abso- 
lutely pernicious  to  minds  which  have  reached  a  certain  point 
of  intelligent  education. 

Tolerating  these  things,  however,  you  may  admit  the  truth 
of  the  Resurrection  (as  you  may  admit  every  proposition  of 
the  Creed)  in  words ;  only  in  a  sense  so  refined,  so  exclu- 
sively spiritual,  that  no  bodily  reality  of  resurrection  is  left. 
There  is  no  resurrection  in  y^our  creed  correlative  to  the 
dying.  There  is  no  resurrection  more,  or  more  demonstrable, 
than  what  we  believe  to  be  true  of  men  in  general.  There 

vi.     The  Incarnation  as  the  basis  of  Dogma.     271 

is  no  resurrection  which  enters  within  the  ordinary  sphere 
of  human  history,  or  admits  any  direct  contact  with  the 
normal  methods  of  human  evidence  or  human  proof.  The 
question  raised  is  not  whether  current  imaginations  of  the 
Resurrection  may  possibly  be  more  or  less  exaggerated  in 
the  way  of  materialism,  but  whether  there  was  any  corporeal 
reality  of  resurrection  at  all.  And  the  question  is  settled  in 
the  negative.  The  foundation  fact  of  the  Creed  is  etherealized 
away ;  and  all  the  rest,  with  it,  becomes  together  impalpable 
and  subjective. 

We  do  not  say  that  there  is  not  a  large  element  which  is 
true,  in  the  thought  of  such  a  writer  as  we  have  been  con- 
sidering. Where  the  mind  is  so  devoutly  in  earnest,  it  is  no 
hard  task  to  believe  that  it  too  must  be  animated  originally 
by  truth.  We  need  not  say,  therefore,  that  the  work  of  this 
earnestness  may  not  serve  us  all,  and  contribute  to  the 
thought  of  us  all.  It  may  well  be  true  that  in  our  bald 
understanding  of  the  doctrine  of  the  Resurrection, — or  indeed 
of  the  whole  Incarnation,  from  beginning  to  end. — we  have, 
many  of  us,  too  little  imagined  the  scope  and  depth  of  its 
spiritual  import.  If  our  orthodoxy  has  been  so  well  content 
with  insisting  mechanically  upon  the  literal  fact,  as  not  only 
to  forget,  but  to  disdain  or  disown  in  any  measure,  the  vast 
spiritual  realities  which  it  ought  to  express  to  us ;  then  our 
stupidity,  or  narrowness,  in  orthodoxy,  is  in  part  to  blame, 
for  the  distaste  which  they  have  created  towards  orthodoxy 
in  some  natures  more  sensitive  than  our  own.  In  so  far  as 
they  can,  in  this  respect,  return  good  for  evil,  we  will  not 
be  slow  to  acknowledge  our  debt  to  them.  We  will  be  grate- 
ful for  any  new  suggestion  they  can  discover,  as  to  the  moral 
beauty  or  import  of  the  Resurrection,  or  of  the  Incarnation, 
or  of  any  or  every  other  miracle,  considered  upon  its  moral 
side  as  allegory.  Some  ways  at  least  there  may  be,  in  which 
their  insistance  may  tend  to  deepen  for  us  our  understanding 
of  truths,  whose  more  spiritual  aspects  we  had  dwelt  upon 
perhaps,  in  some  cases, — perhaps  had  even  imagined, — far 
too  little.  But  doubtless  that  true  element  of  their  work, 
which  the  mind  of  the  Catholic  Church  will  assimilate,  will 

272  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

be  greatly  modified  from  the  form  in  which  it  now  presents 
itself — to  them  as  to  others.  It  will,  to  say  the  least,  be 
positive  rather  than  negative ;  stimulating  spiritual  sensi- 
bilities, but  not  by  explaining  away  the  facts  of  the  body ; 
widening  (it  may  be)  our  insight  into  the  divineness  of  history, 
and  the  depth  of  the  meaning  of  certain  events  which  hap- 
pened in  it, — but  not  shattering  both  it  and  them,  by  dis- 
solving their  historical  truth. 

Meanwhile  of  the  one-sided  aspect  we  can  but  say  that  no 
doubt  transcendental  spiritualism  has  a  great  attractiveness. 
The  Magian  aspiration  always  was  fascinating.  Individuals, 
indeed,  of  enthusiastic  sympathies,  trained  themselves  in  dog- 
matic truth,  and  indulging  their  freest  speculations  always  on 
a  background  of  inveterate  dogmatic  instinct,  may  fancy  the 
'  spiritualized  Christianity '  to  be  in  itself  a  stable  and  a 
living  completeness ;  but  as  a  system,  it  will  neither  produce 
life  nor  perpetuate  it.  It  is  an  attempt  to  improve  upon  the 
Church  of  Christ,  upon  the  conditions  of  human  nature,  upon 
the  facts  of  history.  The  Church  of  Christ  is  not  so.  The 
Church  of  Christ  does  not  ignore  the  fundamental  conditions 
of  human  experience.  The  Church  of  Christ  is  balanced, 
harmonious,  all-embracing,  all-adjusting.  The  Incarnation 
was  the  sanctifying  of  both  parts  of  human  nature,  not  the 
abolition  of  either.  The  Church,  the  Sacraments,  human 
nature,  Jesus  Christ  Himself,  all  are  twofold ;  all  are  earthly 
objective,  as  well  as  transcendental  spiritual.  And  so  long 
as  this  world  is  real  as  well  as  the  next ;  so  long  as  man  is 
body  as  well  as  soul ;  so  long  all  attempts  to  evaporate  the 
body  and  its  realities  are  foredoomed  to  a  necessary  and  a 
salutary  failure.  The  religion,  which  attempts  to  be  rid  of 
the  bodily  side  of  things  spiritual,  sooner  or  later  loses  hold 
of  all  reality.  Pure  spiritualism,  however  noble  the  aspira- 
tion, however  living  the  energy  with  which  it  starts,  always 
has  ended  at  last,  and  will  always  end,  in  evanescence. 






I.  THEOLOGICAL  doctrine,  describing,  as  it  professes  to  do, 
the  dealings  of  an  all-wise  Person  with  the  human  race,  must 
be  a  consistent  whole,  each  part  of  which  reflects  the  oneness 
of  the  will  on  which  it  is  based.  What  we  call  particular 
doctrines  are  in  reality  only  various  applications  to  various 
human  conditions  of  one  great  uniform  method  of  Divine 
government,  which  is  the  expression  in  human  affairs  of  one 
Divine  will.  The  theological  statement  of  any  part  of  this 
method  ought  to  bear  on  its  face  the  marks  of  the  whole  from 
which  it  is  temporarily  separated ;  for  though  it  may  be  neces- 
sary to  make  now  this,  now  that  doctrine  prominent,  to  isolate 
it  and  lay  stress  on  it,  this  should  be  done  in  such  a  way  that 
in  each  special  truth  the  whole  should,  in  a  manner,  be  con- 
tained. We  must  be  able  to  trace  out  in  each  the  lines  of  the 
Divine  action  which  is  only  fully  displayed  in  the  whole. 
Neglect  of  this  not  only  makes  our  faith  as  a  whole  weak 
and  incoherent,  but  deprives  the  doctrines  themselves  of  the 
illumination  and  strength  which  are  afforded  by  the  discovery 
in  them  of  mutual  likeness  and  harmony.  They  become  first 
unintelligible  and  then  inconceivable,  and  the  revelation  of  the 
character  of  God,  which  should  be  perceived  in  every  part  ot 
His  dealings  with  men,  becomes  confused  and  dim  to  us. 
This  has  been  especially  the  case  with  the  Atonement.  In 
the  course  of  religious  controversy  this  doctrine  has  become 
separated  from  the  rest,  at  one  time  neglected,  at  another  over 
emphasized,  till  in  its  isolation  it  has  been  so  stated  as  to  be 
almost  incredible.  Men  could  not  indeed  be  brought  to  dis- 
believe in  forgiveness,  however  attained,  and  the  conviction  of 
remission  of  sins  through  and  in  the  Blood  of  Christ  has  sur- 

T  2 

276  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

vived  all  the  theories  which  have  been  framed  to  account  for 
it ;  but  nevertheless,  the  unreality  of  these  theories  has  been  a 
disaster  to  the  Christian  faith.  Some  of  them  have  strained 
our  belief  in  the  moral  attributes  of  God,  others  have  given 
men  easy  thoughts  of  sin  and  its  consequences.  This  has  been 
so  because  they  have  treated  the  Atonement  apart  from  the 
whole  body  of  facts  which  make  up  the  Christian  conception 
of  God  and  His  dealings  with  men.  In  this  essay  the  attempt 
will  be  made  to  present  the  doctrine  in  its  relation  to  the 
other  great  Christian  truths  :  to  the  doctrines,  that  is,  of  God, 
of  the  Incarnation,  of  sin. 

(i)  On  the  human  side  the  fact  with  which  we  have  to  deal 
is  the  fact  of  sin.  Of  this  conception  the  Bible,  the  most  com- 
plete record  of  the  religious  history  of  man,  is  full  from  the 
first  page  to  the  last.  Throughout  the  whole  course  of  Jewish 
development,  the  idea  that  man  has  offended  the  justice  of 
God  was  one  of  the  abiding  elements  in  the  religious  conscious- 
ness of  the  race.  But  it  was  by  no  means  confined  to  the  Jews. 
They  have  been  truly  called  the  conservators  of  the  idea  of 
sin  ;  but  it  has  never  been  permanently  absent,  in  some  form 
or  other,  from  the  human  mind,  although  we  learn  most  about 
it,  and  can  see  it  in  its  clearest,  most  intense  form,  in  the 
Hebrew  religion.  Now  this  conception  of  sin  in  its  effect  on 
the  human  soul  is  of  a  twofold  character.  Sin  is  felt  to  be 
alienation  from  God,  Who  is  the  source  of  life,  and  strength, 
and  peace,  and  in  consequence  of  that  alienation  the  whole 
nature  is  weakened  and  corrupted.  In  this  aspect  sin  is 
a  state  in  which  the  will  is  separated  from  the  Divine  will, 
the  life  is  cut  off  from  the  life  of  God  which  He  designed  us 
to  share.  When  men  come  to  realize  what  is  meant  by  union 
with  God,  and  to  feel  the  awful  consequences  of  separation, 
there  arises  at  once  the  longing  for  a  return,  a  reconcilia- 
tion ;  but  this  longing  has  by  itself  no  power  to  effect  so  great 
a  change.  To  pass  from  alienation  to  union  is  to  pass  from 
darkness  to  light,  from  evil  to  good,  and  can  only  be  accom- 
plished by  that  very  power,  the  power  of  a  life  united  to  God, 
which  has  been  forfeited  by  sin.  Only  in  union  with  God 
can  man  accomplish  anything  that  is  good  ;  and,  therefore,  so 

vii.     The  Atonement.  277 

long  as  he  is  alienated  from  God,  he  can  only  long  for,  he  can- 
not obtain,  his  reunion  with  the  Divine  life.  Sin  therefore, 
thus  considered,  is  not  only  wickedness  ;  it  is  also  misery  and 
hopelessness.  Sinners  are  '  without  God  in  the  world,'  and 
for  that  reason  they  '  have  no  hope.' 

This  is  the  aspect  of  sin  as  a  state  of  the  sinful  soul,  and 
as  affecting  the  present  relation  between  man  and  God.  It 
has  destroyed  the  union,  has  broken  down  even  the  sacrificial 
bridge,  for  it  has  made  all  acceptable  offerings  impossible. 
Man's  will  is  weakened,  therefore  he  has  not  strength  to  offer 
himself  completely  and  unreservedly  to  God  ;  his  nature  is 
corrupted  and  stained,  therefore  his  offering,  could  he  make 
it,  could  not  be  accepted.  Sin  is  a  hopeless  state  of  weak- 
ness and  uncleanness.  But  there  is  another,  in  one  sense  an 
earlier,  more  fundamental  aspect  of  sin.  The  sins  of  the  past 
have  produced  not  merely  weakness  and  corruption,  but  also 
guilt.  The  sinner  feels  himself  guilty  before  God.  If  we 
examine  the  idea  of  guilt,  as  realized  by  the  conscience,  it 
will  be  seen  to  contain  the  belief  in  an  external  power,  or 
law,  or  person  against  whom  the  offence  has  been  committed, 
and  also  an  internal  feeling,  the  acknowledgment  of  ill-desert, 
a  sense  of  being  under  sentence,  and  that  justly.  Whether 
the  punishment  which  is  felt  to  be  the  due  reward  of  the 
offence  has  been  borne  or  not,  the  conception  of  punishment, 
when  the  offence  has  been  committed,  cannot  be  avoided, 
and  it  brings  with  it  a  conviction  of  its  justice.  These 
two  elements,  the  external  and  the  internal  element,  seem 
to  be  necessary  to  the  full  conception  of  guilt.  The  common 
fallacy  that  a  self-indulgent  sinner  is  no  one's  enemy  but  his 
own  would,  were  it  true,  involve  the  further  inference  that 
such  a  sinner  would  not  feel  himself  guilty.  But  it  is  pre- 
cisely because  the  consciousness  of  sin  does  not  and  cannot 
stop  here  that,  over  and  above  any  injury  to  self,  any  weak- 
ness or  even  corruption  produced  by  sin,  we  speak  of  its  guilt. 
'  Against  Thee,  Thee  only,  have  I  sinned,  and  done  that  which 
is  evil  in  Thy  sight.'  This  belief  in  an  external  power,  whose 
condemnation  has  been  incurred  by  sin,  may  take  various 
forms  ;  for  the  power  may  be  represented  as  impersonal  or  as 

278  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

personal,  as  law  or  as  God.  For  our  present  purposes,  how- 
ever, the  distinction  is  immaterial :  the  essential  point  is  that 
it  is  something  external  to  ourselves,  not  merely  the  echo  of 
the  sinner's  own  self-inflicted  pain  and  injury.  We  cannot, 
however,  limit  it  to  this.  For  it  is  not  merely  an  external 
power,  it  is  also  a  just  power  that  is  presented  to  the  sense 
of  guilt.  Before  bare  power,  unrighteous  or  non-moral,  an 
offender  may  be  compelled  to  submit,  but  he  will  not  feel 
guilt.  The  state  of  mind  expressed  by  Mill's  well-known 
defiance  is  his  who  has  offended  a  superior  power  which  he 
cannot  believe  to  be  just,  and  it  is  very  far  removed  from  the 
feeling  of  guiltiness *.  The  sense  of  guilt  implies  the  right- 
eousness as  well  as  the  power  of  that  against  which  we  have 
offended  ;  it  is  a  moral  conviction.  Guiltiness,  then,  regarded 
in  one  aspect  is  the  sense  of  sin,  in  another  it  is  the  recogni- 
tion of  the  law  of  righteousness,  or,  if  we  may  now  assume 
the  religious  point  of  view,  it  is  the  conviction  of  the  wrath 
of  God  against  sin. 

It  is  plain,  if  we  will  only  scrutinise  closely  and  candidly 
the  conception  of  sin  and  guilt,  that  no  merely  '  subjective' 
explanation  will  account  for  the  facts  revealed  by  our  con- 
sciousness. Even  if  we  had  no  scriptural  evidence  to  guide 
us,  the  evidence,  that  is,  to  take  it  at  the  lowest,  of  a  series 
of  specially  qualified  witnesses  to  religious  phenomena,  our 
own  hearts  would  tell  us  of  the  wrath  of  God  against  sin. 
It  is  irresistibly  felt  that  there  is  a  Power  hostile  to  sin,  and 
that  this  Power  has  decreed  a  righteous  punishment  for  the 
offences  which  are  the  external  signs  and  results  of  the  sinful 
state.  Whatever  the  punishment  may  be,  a  question  we  need 
not  now  discuss,  the  sinner's  conscience  warns  him  of  it.  He 
may  apparently,  or  for  a  time,  escape  it;  but  it  is  none  the 
less  felt  to  be  the  fitting  expression  of  Divine  wrath,  the 
righteous  manifestation  of  the  hostility  of  God's  nature  to 
sin  and  all  its  consequences.  Guilt,  then,  like  sin,  has  its 
twofold  character.  It  is  the  belief  in  an  external  hostility  to 

1    Mill,    Examination     of    Sir     W.  epithet  to  my  fellow-creatures ;  and 

Hamilton's    Philosophy,    p.      103.       'I  if  such  a  being  can  sentence  me  to 

will  call  no  being  good,  who  is  not  hell  for  not  so  calling  him,  to  hell 

what   I   mean   when   I   apply   that  I  will  go.' 

vii.     The  Atonement.  279 

sin  expressing  itself  in  punishment,  and  also  the  conviction 
that  such  punishment  is  righteous  and  just.  Thus,  when  once 
God  is  recognised  as  the  offended  Person,  the  acknowledgment 
of  the  righteousness  of  His  judgment  follows.  '  Against  Thee, 
Thee  only,  have  I  sinned,  and  done  that  which  is  evil  in  Thy 
sight ;  that  Thou  mightest  be  justified  when  Thou  speakest, 
and  be  clear  when  Thou  judgest.' 

(2)  Corresponding  to  the  sense  of  sin  in  its  twofold  aspect 
we  find,  not  only  in  the  Mosaic  system  or  in  the  scriptural 
history,  but  almost  universally  established,  the  system  of 
sacrifice.  It  is  not  necessary  to  maintain  that  sacrifice,  in 
its  essential  idea,  was  intended  to  express  the  consciousness 
of  sin.  Rather,  it  seems  to  be,  essentially,  the  expression 
of  the  very  opposite  of  sin,  of  that  relation  of  man  to 
God  which  sin  destroyed l.  It  is  sometimes  said  that  sacri- 
fice is  the  recognition  of  God's  sovereignty,  the  tribute  paid 
by  His  subjects.  This  is,  of  course,  a  necessary  element 
in  the  conception  of  sacrifice,  for  God  is  our  King ;  but  it 
does  not  satisfy  the  whole  consciousness  which  man  has  of 
his  original  relation  to  God.  That  is  a  relation,  not  of  sub- 
jection only,  but  of  union  at  least  as  close  as  that  of  sons 
to  a  Father,  a  union  whereby  we  derive  life  from  His  life, 
and  render  back  absolute  unquestioning  love  to  Him.  Sacri- 
fice is,  in  its  highest,  original  meaning,  the  outward  expres- 
sion of  this  love.  As  human  love  naturally  takes  outward 
form  in  gifts,  and  the  closer,  the  more  fervent  it  is,  makes 
those  gifts  more  and  more  personal,  till  at  last  it  wholly 
gives  itself ;  so  sacrifice  should  be  the  recognition  of  our 
union  with  God,  an  expression  of  our  love  for  Him,  giving 
Him  all  that  we  have  and  all  that  we  are.  Submission, 
reverence,  love  are  the  original  feelings  which  sacrifice 
was  intended  to  represent ;  and  it  may  be  called,  therefore, 
the  expression  of  man's  relations  to  God  in  their  purest  form, 
unmarred  and  unbroken  by  sin.  But  this  is  only  the  original, 
ideal  meaning,  for  with  the  intrusion  of  sin  another  element 
appears  in  sacrifice ;  and  men  attempt,  by  their  offerings,  to 
expiate  their  offences,  to  cover  their  sins,  to  wipe  out  their 

1  Cf.  Holland,  Logic  and  Life,  pp.  107,  108. 

280  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

guilt,  to  propitiate  Divine  wrath.  But  though  this  new  ele- 
ment is  introduced,  the  original  intention  is  not  altogether 
lost.  The  union  has  been  destroyed  by  sin,  but  even  in  the 
sin-offerings  under  the  Law  there  was  expressed  the  endeavour 
to  regain  it,  to  enter  once  more  into  living  relations  with 
God:  while  the  normal  sacrifices  of  the  congregation  went 
beyond  this,  and  represented  the  exercise  of  a  right  based 
on  union  with  God,  the  presentation  of  the  people  before 
Him.  Thus  we  must  recognise  in  the  Mosaic  sacrifices — the 
most  complete  and  typical  form  of  the  sacrificial  idea — the 
twofold  aspect  which  corresponds  to  the  twofold  effect  of 
sin  on  the  human  race.  There  is  the  offering,  sometimes  the 
bloodless  offering,  by  which  was  typified  simply  man's  de- 
pendence on  God,  his  submission  to  Him,  his  life  derived 
from  Him  and  therefore  rendered  back  to  Him.  From  this 
point  of  view  the  sacrifice  culminated,  not  in  the  slaying  and 
offering  of  the  victim,  but  in  the  sprinkling  of  the  blood, 
the  '  principle  of  life,'  upon  the  altar.  The  priestly  mediators 
brought  the  blood,  which  'maketh  atonement  by  reason  of 
the  life,'  before  God,  and  sprinkled  it  upon  the  altar,  in  order 
that  the  lost  union  with  God  in  the  covenant  might  be  re- 
stored, and  life  once  more  derived  from  God  as  it  had  been 
offered  to  Him.  The  whole  system  was  indeed  only  partial, 
temporary,  external.  The  Mosaic  sacrifices  '  sanctified  unto 
the  cleanness  of  the  flesh,'  they  did  not  '  cleanse  the  conscience 
from  dead  works  to  serve  the  living  God.'  So  the  restoration 
which  the  special  sin-offerings  accomplished  was  merely  ex- 
ternal and  temporary,  the  reunion  of  the  offender  with  the 
congregation  of  Israel  from  which  his  fault  had  separated 
him.  But  as  this  excommunication  symbolised  the  loss, 
brought  about  by  sin,  of  life  with  God,  so  the  reunion  with 
the  congregation  typified  the  reunion  of  the  sinner  with 
God.  As  a  system,  then,  the  Mosaic  sacrifices  both  corres- 
ponded to  a  deep  desire  of  the  human  heart,  the  desire  to 
recover  the  lost  relation  to  the  Divine  life,  and  also  by  their 
imperfection  pointed  forward  to  a  time  when,  by  means  of 
a  more  perfect  offering,  that  restoration  should  be  complete, 
accomplished  once  for  all,  and  eternal.  This  is  one  aspect  of 

vii.     The  Atonement.  281 

the  sacrificial  system.  But  before  this  typical  restoration  of 
life,  there  came  the  mysterious  act  which  corresponded  to  the 
sense  of  guilt.  Leaving  aside  the  lesser  offerings  of  the  shew- 
bread  and  the  incense,  it  may  be  said  generally  that  in  every 
sacrifice  the  slaying  of  a  victim  was  a  necessary  element. 
And  there  is  deep  significance  in  the  manner  in  which  the 
slaying  was  performed.  The  hands  of  the  offerer  laid  upon 
the  victim's  head  denoted,  according  to  the  unvarying  use  of 
the  Old  Testament,  the  representative  character  of  the  animal 
offered,  and  thus  the  victim  was,  so  to  speak,  laden  with  the 
guilt  of  him  who  sought  for  pardon  and  reconciliation.  The 
victim  was  then  slain  by  the  offerer  himself,  and  the  death 
thus  became  an  acknowledgment  of  the  justice  of  God's 
punishments  for  sin :  it  was  as  if  the  offerer  declared,  '  This 
representative  of  my  guilt  I  here,  by  my  own  act,  doom  to 
death,  in  satisfaction  of  the  righteous  law  of  vengeance 
against  sin,  for  "  the  soul  that  sinneth  it  shall  die."  ]  It  was 
not,  therefore,  till  the  sense  of  personal  guilt  had  been  ex- 
pressed by  the  act  which  constituted  the  victim  a  repre- 
sentative of  the  offerer,  and  by  the  slaying  which  typified 
the  need  of  expiation  by  suffering  for  sin,  that  the  sacrifice 
was  fit  to  be  presented  before  God  by  the  mediation  of  the 
priest,  and  the  blood,  'the  life  which  had  willingly  passed 
through  death1/  could  be  sprinkled  as  a  token  of  restored 
life  in  God.  A  careful  study  of  the  Mosaic  sacrifices  will 
shew  the  twofold  character  impressed  upon  them.  Both 
aspects  are  necessary,  they  may  even  be  described  as  two 
sides  of  the  same  fact.  Before  God  can  be  approached  by 
a  sinner  he  must  expiate  his  sin  by  suffering,  must  perfectly 
satisfy  the  demands  of  the  law,  must  atone  for  the  past  which 
has  loaded  him  with  guilt :  and  then,  as  part  of  the  same 
series  of  acts,  the  life  so  sacrificed,  so  purified  by  the  expiatory 
death,  is  accepted  by  God,  and  being  restored  from  Him,  be- 
comes the  symbol  and  the  means  of  union  with  Him.  For- 
giveness for  the  past,  cleansing  in  the  present,  hope  for  the 
future,  are  thus  united  in  one  great  symbolic  ceremony. 

The  Mosaic  system  was  only  external, '  sanctifying  unto  the 

1  Milligan,  TJie  Resurrection,  p.  278. 

282  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

cleanness  of  the  flesh ' ;  partial,  for  it  provided  no  expiation  for 
the  graver  moral  transgressions ;  temporary,  for  the  sacrifices 
had  to  be  repeated  '  day  by  day ' ;  provisional,  for  '  if  there  was 
perfection  through  the  Levitical  priesthood  .  .  .  what  further 
need  was  there  that  another  priest  should  arise  after  the  order 
of  Melchizedek  1 '  In  spite,  however,  of  these  obvious  defects 
and  limitations  in  the  Mosaic  system,  there  was  a  constant 
tendency  among  the  Jews  to  rest  content  with  it,  to  rely  upon 
the  efficacy  of  these  external  sacrifices  and  ceremonies  for 
their  whole  religion,  to  believe  that  '  the  blood  of  bulls  and 
goats '  could  '  put  away  sin,'  and  that  no  inner  spiritual  re- 
pentance or  renovation  was  required.  And  the  highest  minds 
of  the  nation,  represented  by  the  prophets,  were  keenly  alive 
to  this  danger :  their  rebukes  and  remonstrances  shew  how 
strongly  they  felt  the  imperfection  of  the  sacrificial  system, 
how  it  failed  to  satisfy  the  really  religious  cravings  of  spiritual 
minds.  Yet  there  it  was,  divinely  ordained,  clearly  necessary 
as  the  expression  of  the  national  religious  life,  profoundly 
significant.  It  could  not  be  dispensed  with,  yet  it  could  not 
satisfy :  in  its  incompleteness,  as  well  as  in  its  symbolism,  it 
pointed  forward,  and  foreshadowed  a  perfect  expiation. 

(3)  This  examination  of  the  sacrificial  system  of  the  Old  Tes- 
tament is  necessary  in  a  discussion  of  the  doctrine  of  the  Atone- 
ment, for  several  reasons.  The  institutions  of  the  Law  were, 
in  the  first  place,  ordained  by  God,  and  therefore  intended  to 
reveal  in  some  degree  His  purposes,  His  mind  towards  man. 
We  thus  find  in  them  traces  of  the  fuller  revelation  which 
came  afterwards,  and  the  two  dispensations  throw  light  on 
each  other.  Then  again,  it  was  from  the  Law  that  the  Jews 
derived  their  religious  language  :  their  conceptions  of  sacrifice, 
of  atonement,  of  the  effects  of  sin,  were  moulded  by  the  in- 
fluence of  the  Mosaic  ceremonies.  For  this  reason  the  apostolic 
doctrine  of  the  Atonement  must  be  looked  at  in  connection 
with  the  ideas  inspired  by  the  Law,  although,  of  course,  the  life 
and  work  of  our  Lord  so  enlarged  the  religious  conceptions  of  the 
Apostles  as  to  constitute  a  fresh  revelation.  But  it  was  a  revela- 
tion on  the  lines,  so  to  speak,  of  the  old ;  it  took  up  and  con- 
tinued the  ideas  implanted  by  the  Mosaic  religion,  and  displayed 

vii.      The  Atonement.  283 

the  fulfilment  of  the  earlier  promises  and  forecasts.  It  is, 
therefore,  from  the  Old  Testament  that  we  have  to  learn  the 
vocabulary  of  the  apostolic  writings.  As  the  Messianic  hopes 
and  phraseology  throw  light  upon  the  apostolic  conception 
of  the  Kingdom  of  Christ,  so  the  sacrificial  ceremonies  and 
language  of  the  Law  throw  light  upon  the  apostolic  con- 
ception of  the  Sacrifice,  the  Atonement  of  Christ.  But  this 
is  not  all.  The  Mosaic  institutions,  in  their  general  outlines, 
were  no  arbitrary  and  artificial  symbols,  but  corresponded  to 
religious  feelings,  needs,  aspirations  that  may  truly  be  called 
natural  and  universal.  This  conception  of  sin  in  its  twofold 
aspect  of  alienation  and  of  guilt,  and  this  idea  of  sacrifice  as 
effecting  man's  restoration  to  union  with  God,  and  also  as 
expiating  his  guilt  by  suffering,  correspond  to  what  the  human 
conscience,  when  deeply  and  sincerely  investigated,  declares  to 
be  its  inmost  secret.  Every  man  who  has  once  realized  sin, 
can  also  realize  the  feelings  of  the  Jew  who  longed  to  make  an 
expiation  for  the  guilt  of  the  past,  to  suffer  some  loss,  some 
penalty  that  would  cover  his  sin,  and  who  therefore  brought 
his  offering  before  God,  made  the  unconscious  victim  his  re- 
presentative, the  bearer  of  his  guilt,  and  by  slaying  it  strove 
to  make  atonement.  We  feel  the  same  need,  the  same  longing. 
This  load  of  guilt  has  to  be  laid  down  somehow :  this  past 
sinfulness  must  meet  with  a  punishment  which  will  make  ex- 
piation for  it :  before  this  lost  union  with  God  can  be  restored 
we  must  be  assured  of  pardon,  must  know  that  the  wrath  of 
God  no  longer  abides  on  us,  but  has  been  turned  away,  and 
finds  no  longer  in  us  the  sin  which  is  the  one  obstacle  to  the 
free  course  of  Divine  love.  And  then  we  know  further  that 
bitter  truth  which  came  to  the  loftiest  minds  among  the  Jews, 
that  no  sacrifice  of  ours  can  have  atoning  value,  for  God 
demands  the  offering  of  ourselves,  and  we  are  so  weakened  by 
sin  that  we  cannot  give  ourselves  up  to  Him,  so  polluted  by 
sin  that  we  cannot  be  well-pleasing  in  His  eyes.  In  order  to 
atone,  sacrifice  must  be  no  outward  ceremony,  the  offering  of 
this  or  that  possession,  the  fulfilment  of  this  or  that  externally- 
imposed  ordinance,  but  the  entire  surrender  of  self  to  God,  and 
to  His  law,  a  surrender  dictated  from  within  by  the  free 

284  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

impulse  of  the  will.  Therefore,  just  as  the  spiritually-minded 
Jew  felt  the  continual  discrepancy  between  the  external 
ceremonies  which  he  was  bound  to  fulfil,  and  the  complete 
submission  to  the  will  of  God  which  they  could  not  effect, 
and  without  which  they  were  wholly  inadequate,  so  every 
awakened  conscience  must  feel  the  fruitlessness  of  any  out- 
ward expression  of  devotion  and  obedience  so  long  as  there 
is  no  complete  sacrifice  of  self. 

These,  then,  seem  to  be  the  conditions  which  must  be 
satisfied  before  an  atonement  can  meet  the  needs  of  the 
human  heart  and  conscience,  whether  these  are  inferred  from 
an  examination  of  the  Hebrew  religious  institutions  or  are 
gathered  from  our  own  knowledge  of  ourselves  and  of  others. 
There  is,  first  of  all,  the  consciousness  of  guilt,  of  an  offended 
God,  of  a  law  transgressed,  of  punishment  impending,  to 
expiate  which  some  sacrifice  is  necessary,  but  no  sacrifice 
adequate  to  which  can  be  offered  by  us  as  we  are.  Pro- 
pitiation is  the  first  demand  of  the  law,  and  we  cannot, 
of  ourselves,  propitiate  Him  whose  anger  we  have  righteously 
incurred.  Secondly,  we  long  for  an  abiding  union  with 
Him,  and  for  the  full  bestowal  of  the  Divine  life  which 
results  from  that  union  alone.  Propitiation  is  not  enough 
by  itself,  though  propitiation  is  the  necessary  first  step  in 
the  process  of  reconciliation.  Aliens,  by  our  own  sinful  acts, 
and  by  the  sin  of  our  forefathers,  from  the  life  of  God,  we 
yet  long  to  return  and  to  live  once  more  in  Him.  But  this  is 
equally  impossible  for  us  to  accomplish  of  ourselves.  By  sin 
we  have  exiled  ourselves,  but  we  cannot  return  by  mere  force  of 
will.  Both  as  propitiation,  therefore,  and  as  reunion,  the  Atone- 
ment must  come  from  without  and  cannot  be  accomplished 
by  those  who  themselves  have  need  of  it.  But  there  is  a 
third  condition,  apparently  irreconcileable  with  the  other  two. 
This  same  consciousness  of  guilt  which  demands  an  expiation 
demands  that  it  shall  be  personal,  the  satisfaction  of  the  sense 
of  personal  responsibility,  and  of  the  unconquerable  conviction 
of  our  own  freedom.  The  propitiatory  sacrifice  which  is  to 
effect  our  reunion  must,  for  we  are  powerless  to  offer  it,  come 
from  without :  but  at  the  same  time  we  cannot  but  feel  that 

vii.     The  Atonement.  285 

it  must  come  into  contact  with  the  will,  it  must  be  the  inward 
sacrifice,  the  freewill  offering  of  the  whole  nature  that  has 

II.  If  the  redemptive  work  of  Christ  satisfies  these  conditions 
it  is  evident  that  it  is  not  a  simple,  but  a  very  complex  fact. 
The  fault  of  many  of  the  theories  of  the  Atonement  has  been  that, 
though  none  of  them  failed  to  be  partially  true,  they  were 
limited  to  one  or  other  of  the  various  aspects  which  that 
mysterious  fact  presents.  It  is  certain,  again,  that  of  this  com- 
plex fact  no  adequate  explanation  can  be  given.  At  every 
stage  in  the  process  which  is  generally  summed  up  in  the  one 
word  Atonement  we  are  in  presence  of  forces  which  issue  from 
infinity  and  pass  out  of  our  sight  even  while  we  are  contem- 
plating their  effects.  And  even  if  the  Atonement  could  be 
altogether  reduced,  so  to  speak,  to  terms  of  human  experience, 
it  will  be  shewn  that  man's  forgiveness,  the  nearest  analogy 
of  which  we  have  any  knowledge,  is  an  experience  of  which 
no  logical  explanation  can  be  given,  which  seems  to  share, 
indeed,  something  of  the  mystery  of  its  Divine  antitype. 
But  though  it  is  almost  blasphemous  to  pretend  to  fathom 
the  depth  of  the  Atonement,  to  lay  out  the  whole  truth  so  as 
to  satisfy  the  formulae  of  human  reason,  it  is  necessary  so  to 
understand  it  as  to  discern  its  response  to  the  imperative 
demands  of  the  sense  of  sin  and  the  desire  for  forgiveness. 
Whatever  the  ultimate  mysteries  of  the  death  of  Christ  may 
be,  it  is  certain  that  it  has  had  power  to  convince  men  of 
forgiveness  and  to  give  them  a  new  life.  It  must  therefore  in 
some  way  satisfy  the  conditions  which,  as  we  have  seen,  are 
laid  down  by  human  consciousness  and  experience.  It  is 
under  the  threefold  aspect  required  by  those  conditions  that 
the  doctrine  of  the  Atonement  will  be  here  presented. 

i.  The  death  of  Christ  is,  in  the  first  place,  to  be  regarded 
as  propitiatory.  On  the  one  hand  there  is  man's  desire, 
natural  and  almost  instinctive,  to  make  expiation  for  his 
guilt :  on  the  other  there  is  the  tremendous  fact  of  the  wrath 
of  God  against  sin.  The  death  of  Christ  is  the  expiation  for 
those  past  sins  which  have  laid  the  burden  of  guilt  upon  the 
human  soul,  and  it  is  also  the  propitiation  of  the  wrath  of 

286  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

God.  As  we  have  seen,  over  against  the  sense  of  sin  and  of 
liability  to  the  Divine  wrath  there  has  always  existed  the 
idea  of  sacrifice  by  which  that  wrath  might  be  averted.  Man 
could  not  offer  an  acceptable  sacrifice :  it  has  been  offered  for 
him  by  Christ.  That  is  the  simplest,  and  it  would  seem  the 
most  scriptural  way  of  stating  the  central  truth,  which  is  also 
the  deepest  mystery,  of  the  Atonement,  and  it  seems  to  sum 
up  and  include  the  various  other  metaphors  and  descriptions 
of  the  redemptive  work  of  Christ.  But  its  mere  statement  at 
once  suggests  questions,  the  consideration  of  which  will  lead 
to  a  fuller  understanding  of  the  doctrine.  Thus  we  have  to  ask, 
What  is  it  which  is  propitiated  by  Christ's  death  ?  In  other 
words,  What  is  meant  by  the  wrath  of  God  against  sin "? 

(a)  It  should  be  remembered  that  though  there  is  great  danger 
in  anthropomorphism,  and  though  most  of  the  superstition 
which  has  ever  been  the  shadow  cast  by  religion  on  the 
world  has  arisen  from  an  exaggerated  conception  of  the  like- 
ness of  God  to  ourselves,  yet  there  is,  after  all,  no  other  way 
of  knowing  God  than  by  representing  Him  under  conceptions 
formed  by  our  own  consciousness  and  experience,  and  this 
method  is  pre-eminently  incumbent  upon  us  who  believe 
that  man  is  made  '  in  the  image  of  God.'  We  are  certain, 
for  instance,  that  love,  pity,  justice,  are  affections  which, 
however  imperfectly  they  may  be  found  in  us,  do  make  for 
goodness,  and  if  we  may  not  ascribe  these  same  affections, 
infinitely  raised  and  purified,  to  God,  we  have  no  means  of 
conceiving  His  character,  of  knowing  '  with  whom  we  have 
to  deal.' 

Our  knowledge,  even  of  ourselves,  is  after  all  frag- 
mentary1, and  thus  truths  of  whose  certainty  we  are  con- 
vinced may  seem  irreconcileably  opposed  to  each  other. 
Our  conception  of  love,  for  example,  is  a  fragment,  and 
we  cannot  trace  it  up  to  the  meeting-point  at  which  it  is 
reconciled  with  justice,  so  that  in  our  moral  judgments  we 

1  Cf.  Mozley,  University  Sermons,  p.  indeed  are  they  but  great  vistas  and 

177  (2nd  ed.) :  'Justice  is  a  fragment,  openings  into  an  invisible  world  in 

mercy  is  a  fragment,  mediation  is  a  which    is   the   point   of  view  which 

fragment ;  justice,  mercy,  mediation  brings  them  all  together  ? ' 
as  a  reason  of  mercy — all  three ;  what 

vn.     The  Atonement.  287 

are  continually   oscillating,    as  it  were,   between    the   two. 

But  this  fact  should  not   hinder  us  from  ascribing   to   God 

in  their  fullest  degree  both  love  and  justice,  confident  that  in 

Him  they  are  harmonized  because  we  are  confident  from  the 

verdict   of  our   own   consciences    that   both   are   good,   and 

because  even  in  such  imperfect  reflections  of  His  image  as,  for 

instance,  parental  love,  we  see  at  least  a  partial  harmony  of  them. 

When  then  a  doubt  arises  as  to  the  literal  explanation  of  the 

phrase  '  the  wrath  of  God,'  the  difficulty  must  not  be  met  by 

the   simple   assertion  that  we  cannot  reconcile  the  idea  of 

wrath  with  that  of  the  love  of  God:  we  must  ask  whether 

wrath,  as  it  exists  in  us,  is  a  good  and  righteous  affection,  or 

whether   it  is   always  and   entirely  evil.     To   this  question 

there  can  be  but  one  answer.  We  are  conscious  of  a  righteous 

anger,  of  an  affection  of  displeasure  that  a  good  man  ought  to 

feel  against  sin  and  evil,  and  this  is  amply  justified  by  the 

scriptural  references  to  righteous  anger,  and  by  the  accounts 

of  our  Lord's  displays  of  indignation  against  evil.     But  though 

we  are  thus  compelled  to  find  room,  so  to  speak,  for  anger  in 

our  conception  of  God's  character,  it  is  not  therefore  necessary 

to  ascribe  to  Him  that  disturbance  of  the  spiritual  nature,  or 

that  change  in  the  direction  of  the  will,  which  are  almost 

invariable  accompaniments  of  human  anger.     These  are  the 

defects  of  the  human  affection,  from  which  arises  the  sinful 

tendency  in  our  anger,  and  which  cannot  be  thought  of  in 

connection  with   the   all-holy   and   all-wise    God.      On   the 

other  hand,  it  is  not  possible  to  limit  the  conception  of  the 

'  wrath  of  God  '  to  the  acts  whereby  sin  is  or  will  be  punished, 

which  was  the  explanation  of  some  of  the  Fathers,  or  to  think 

of  it  as  in  the  future  only,  to  come  into  existence  only  on 

the  day  of  judgment,  as  has  been  attempted  by  some  modern 

theologians.      The    scriptural    expressions,   including   as   we 

must  the  passages  which  speak  of  our  Lord's  anger,  cannot 

be  so  weakened.     '  The  wrath  of  God '  seems  to  denote  no 

changeful   impulse   or   passing    feeling,    but  the   fixed   and 

necessary  hostility  of  the   Divine  Nature  to  sin ;    and  the 

idea  must  further  include  the  manifestation  of  that  hostility, 

whenever  sin  comes  before  God,  in  external  acts  of  vengeance, 

288  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

punishment  and  destruction.  God's  anger  is  not  only  the 
displeasure  of  an  offended  Person :  it  is  possible  that  this  is 
altogether  a  wrong  conception  of  it :  it  must  be  further  the 
expression  of  justice,  which  not  only  hates  but  punishes 
The  relation  of  the  Divine  Nature  to  sin  is  thus  twofold :  it 
is  the  personal  hostility,  if  we  may  call  it  so,  of  holiness 
to  sin,  and  it  is  also  the  righteousness  which  punishes  sin 
because  it  is  lawless.  The  two  ideas  are  intimately  con- 
nected, and  not  unfrequently,  when  we  should  have  expected 
to  find  in  the  Bible  the  wrath  of  God  spoken  of,  the  language 
of  judgment  and  righteousness  is  substituted  for  it.  Sin  is 
necessarily  hateful  to  the  holiness  of  God,  but  also,  because 
sin  is  lawlessness,  it  is  judged,  condemned,  and  punished  by 
Him  in  accordance  with  the  immutable  law  of  righteousness, 
which  is  the  law  of  His  own  Nature.  Therefore,  to  turn 
from  God's  wrath  against  sin  to  the  mode  in  which  that 
wrath  may  be  averted,  it  results  that  the  sacrifice  offered  for 
sin  must  be  both  a  propitiation  and  a  satisfaction.  Anger, 
so  we  think,  is  but  a  feeling,  and  may  be  ousted  by  another 
feeling ;  love  can  strive  against  wrath  and  overcome  it ;  the 
Divine  hatred  of  sin  need  raise  no  obstacle  to  the  free  forgive- 
ness of  the  sinner.  So  we  might  think ;  but  a  true  ethical 
insight  shews  us  that  this  affection  of  anger,  of  hatred,  is  in 
reality  the  expression  of  justice,  and  derives  from  the  law  of 
righteousness,  which  is  not  above  God,  nor  is  it  dependent  on 
His  Will,  for  it  is  Himself.  '  He  cannot  deny  Himself ' ;  He 
cannot  put  away  His  wrath,  until  the  demands  of  Law  have 
been  satisfied,  until  the  sacrifice  has  been  offered  to  expiate,  to 
cover,  to  atone  for  the  sins  of  the  world.  The  reconciliation 
to  be  effected  is  not  merely  the  reconciliation  of  man  to  God 
by  the  change  wrought  in  man's  rebellious  nature,  but  it  is 
also  the  propitiation  of  God  Himself,  whose  wrath  unappeased 
and  whose  justice  unsatisfied  are  the  barriers  thrown  across 
the  sinner's  path  to  restoration. 

(6)  But  how,  we  ask  further,  was  this  propitiation  made  by 
the  Sacrifice  on  the  Cross  ?  Or,  to  put  the  question  rather 
differently,  what  was  it  that  gave  to  the  death  of  Christ  its 
propitiatory  value  ?  In  attempting  to  suggest  an  answer  to 

vii.      The  Atonement.  289 

this  question,  it  is  necessary  to  bear  in  mind  the  distinction 
between  the  actual  event,  or  series  of  events,  which  consti- 
tuted the  Propitiatory  Sacrifice,  and  that  inner  element  which 
was  thereby  manifested,  and  which  gave  to  the  actual  event 
its  worth.  S.  Bernard  expressed  the  distinction  in  the  well- 
known  words  '  Not  His  death,  but  His  willing  acceptance  of 
death,  was  pleasing  to  God/  and  there  can  be  no  doubt  that 
throughout  the  New  Testament  special  stress  is  laid  upon  the 
perfect  obedience  manifested  in  the  life  and  death  of  Christ, 
upon  the  accomplishment  of  His  Father's  will  which  He  ever 
kept  in  view,  and  upon  the  contrast  thus  marked  between  the 
Mosaic  sacrifices  and  the  one  atoning  offering.  '  Sacrifices 
and  offerings  and  whole  burnt  offerings  and  sacrifices  for  sin 
Thou  wouldest  not,  neither  hadst  pleasure  therein  .  .  .  then 
hath  He  said,  Lo,  I  am  come  to  do  Thy  will.' 

That  the  perfect  obedience  displayed  in  the  passion  and 
death  of  our  Lord  was  the  element  which  gave  to  the  sacrifice 
its  propitiatory  value  will  be  more  readily  understood  when  it 
is  remembered  that  the  essence  of  man's  sin  was  from  the  first 
disobedience,  the  rebellion  of  the  human  will  against  the 
commands  of  God.  The  perfect  sacrifice  was  offered  by  One 
Who,  being  man  with  all  man's  liability  to  temptation,  that  is 
with  all  the  instruments  of  sin  at  His  disposal 1,  and  exposed 
to  every  suggestion  to  set  up  His  will  against  that  of  the 
Father,  yet  throughout  His  life  continued  unswervingly  bent 
on  doing  '  not  His  own  will,  but  the  will  of  the  Father  Who 
sent  Him,'  and  Who  thus  displayed  the  original  perfection  of 
human  nature,  the  unbroken  union  with  the  life  of  God. 
On  the  cross  the  final  struggle,  the  supreme  temptation  took 
place.  The  obedience  shewn  throughout  His  life  was  there 
manifested  in  death.  '  He  became  obedient  unto  death,  even 
the  death  of  the  cross.'  At  any  moment  of  the  passion 
a  single  acquiescence  in  evil,  a  single  submission  to  the 
law  of  unrighteousness,  a  single  swerving  of  His  will  from 
its  choice  of  absolute  obedience,  would,  we  may  believe,  have 

1  Cf.  Ch.  Quarterly  Review,  xvi.  p.  289  of  human  nature,  everything  that 
on  '  Our  Lord's  Human  Example.'  man  sins  with,  and  therefore  every 
'  Christ,  of  course,  had  every  faculty  instrument  or  faculty  of  sin.' 

290  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

ended  all  the  shame  and  torture.  And  therefore  there  was 
needed  at  every  moment  a  real  effort  of  His  human  will 
to  keep  itself  in  union  with  the  will  of  God  x  ;  it  was  not  a 
mere  submission  at  the  outset  once  for  all,  but  a  con- 
tinuous series  of  voluntary  acts  of  resignation  and  obedience. 
Here  then  is  the  spirit  of  sacrifice  which  God  demands, 
and  which  could  not  be  found  in  the  sacrifices  of  the 
Mosaic  law,  or  in  any  offering  of  sinful  man.  The  essence 
of  the  Atonement  was  the  mind  of  Christ  therein  displayed, 
the  obedience  gradually  learnt  and  therein  perfected,  the  will 
of  Christ  therein  proved  to  be  one  with  the  Father's  will. 

But  we  may  discern  a  further  element  of  propitiation  in 
the  death  of  our  Lord.  The  law  of  righteousness,  the  justice 
of  God,  demands  not  only  obedience  in  the  present,  but 
retribution  for  the  past.  '  The  sins  done  aforetime  '  had  been 
'  passed  over  in  the  forbearance  of  God '  for  His  own  pur- 
poses, which  are  not  revealed  to  us :  this  '  passing  over '  had 
obscured  the  true  nature  of  sin  and  of  the  Divine  justice. 
Men  had  come  to  have  easy  thoughts  of  sin  and  its  con- 
sequences ;  the  heathen  felt  but  vaguely  the  burden  of  guilt, 
the  Jew  trusted  in  the  mere  external  works  of  the  law.  In 
the  death  of  Christ  a  manifestation  was  made  of  the  right- 
eousness of  God,  of  His  wrath,  the  absolute  hostility  of  His 
nature  to  sin.  '  God  set  Him  forth  to  be  a  propitiation, 
through  faith,  by  His  blood,  to  shew  His  righteousness, 
because  of  the  passing  over  of  the  sins  done  aforetime,  in  the 
forbearance  of  God.'  But  this  manifestation  of  Divine  justice 
might  have  been  made  by  mere  punishment:  it  became  a 
propitiation,  in  that  He,  the  self-chosen  victim,  by  His 
acceptance  of  it,  recognised  the  righteousness  of  the  law 
which  was  vindicated  on  the  cross.  Men  had  refused  to 
acknowledge  God's  justice  in  the  consequences  of  sin ;  nothing 

1  In  the  last  two  sentences  a  slight  which   could  be   amply  justified   by 

change    has   been    made    in    conse-  such  a  passage  as  e.  g.  S.  Anselm,  Cur 

quence  of  a  criticism  which  showed  Deus  Homo,  ii.  10,  '  Possumus  igitur 

that  it  was  possible  to  misunderstand  dicere  de  Christo  quia  potuit  mentiri, 

the    language    originally    employed,  si    subaudiatur,   si   vellet.'      Cf.    also 

which  however  was  intended  to  con-  [Boetius]  c.  Eutychen  at  Nestor  turn,  c.  viii. 

vey  precisely  the  same  meaning,  and  (Opuscula  Sacra,  ed.  Peifer,  pp.  214  ff.) 

vii.     The  Atonement.  291 

but  the  willing  acceptance  of  suffering,  as  the  due  portion  of 
the  human  nature  in  which  the  sin  was  wrought,  could  have 

O          * 

so  declared  the  justice  of  God's  law  as  to  be  a  propitiation  of 
Divine  wrath.  The  cross  was,  on  the  one  hand,  the  procla- 
mation of  God's  ordinance  against  sin,  on  the  other  it  was 
the  response  of  man  at  length  acknowledging  the  righteous- 
ness of  the  condemnation 1. 

But  on  looking  more  closely  into  the  matter,  it  is  obvious 
that  these  explanations  are  not  by  themselves  enough  to 
account  for  the  scriptural  facts  which  we  call  the  Atonement. 
We  cannot  ignore  that,  whether  we  consider  the  Old  Testa- 
ment anticipations,  or  the  New  Testament  narrative  of  our 
Lord's  work,  His  death,  apart  from  the  obedience  manifested 
in  it,  occupies  a  unique  place,  and  that  stress  is  laid  on  it 
which  would  be  unaccountable  were  it  only  the  extreme  trial 
of  His  obedience.  The  frequent  declaration  that  it  was 
necessary,  that  '  it  behoved  Christ  to  die,'  seems  to  point  to 
something  exceptional  in  it,  something  more  than  the  mere 
close  of  His  spotless  life.  So  again  the  mysterious  dread  and 
horror  with  which  He  looked  forward  to  it  testify  to  some- 
thing in  it  which  goes  far  beyond  any  human  experience  of 
death2.  And  what  we  gather  from  the  New  Testament  must 
be  combined  with  the  Old  Testament  premonitions  of  Christ's 
death,  as  typified  by  the  Mosaic  sacrifices.  There  can  be  no 
question  that  death  was,  speaking  generally,  an  integral  part 
of  the  idea  of  sacrifice  for  sin,  and  that  the  distinguishing 
ceremonial  of  the  slaying  of  the  victim  points  to  a  special 
significance  in  death  as  connected  with  expiation  and 
propitiation.  Therefore,  although  we  may  still  recognise 
that  it  was  the  spirit  of  obedience  and  voluntary  submission 

1  Cf.   McLeod  Campbell,  The  Nature  humanity  to  the  judgment  of  God  on  the 

of  the  Atonement,  pp.  117,  118,  119,  127,  sin  of  man.'     'In  Christ  tasting  death 

347  :  '  That  oneness  of  mind  with  the  fas]  the  wages  of  sin  .  .  .  was  a  per- 

Father,  which  towards  man  took  the  fecting   of  the   Divine    response    in 

form  of  condemnation  of  sin,  would  humanity  to  the  Divine  condemna- 

in  the  Son's  dealing  with  the  Father  tion  of  sin.' 

in  relation  to  our  sins,  take  the  form  2  See  Dale,  Atonement,  pp.  49  if.  ; 

of  a  perfect  confession  of  our  sins.  Schmidt  in  Herzog's  Heal.  Encykl.  xvi. 

This  confession,  as  to  its  own  nature,  403. 
must    have   been   a   perfect  Amen  in 

U  2 

292  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

which  gave  atoning  value  to  the  death  of  Christ,  we  cannot 
ignore  the  necessity  of  death  as  the  appointed  form  which 
the  obedience  took.  Had  He  not  obeyed,  He  would  not 
have  atoned ;  but  had  He  noi>  died,  the  obedience  would 
have  lacked  just  that  element  which  made  it  an  atonement 
for  sin.  The  obedience  was  intended  to  issue  in  death. 
S.  Bernard's  saying,  though  true  as  he  meant  it,  is,  if  taken 
quite  literally,  too  sharp  an  antithesis.  There  is  nothing  well- 
pleasing  to  God  in  death  alone,  it  is  true  ;  but  there  is,  so  He 
has  revealed  it,  something  well-pleasing  to  His  righteous- 
ness, something  propitiatory  in  death,  if  as  a  further  condition 
the  perfect  obedience  of  the  victim  is  thereby  displayed. 

We  are  driven  to  the  same  conclusion  by  the  second 
explanation  of  our  Lord's  sacrifice  given  above.  It  is  not 
enough  to  say  that  He  died  in  order  to  manifest  God's 
righteous  judgment  against  sin,  for  the  question  remains, 
Why  is  death  the  requisite  manifestation  of  judgment1?  If 
He  endured  it  because  it  is  the  only  fitting  punishment, 
why  is  it  in  such  a  signal  manner  the  penalty  of  sin  ?  We 
can  point  indeed  to  the  Divine  principle,  '  The  soul  that 
sinneth,  it  shall  die,'  as  we  can  point  to  God's  declared  will 
that  expiation  shall  be  made  by  means  of  death,  but  in 
neither  case,  whether  death  be  looked  upon  as  the  punish- 
ment or  as  the  expiation  of  sin,  is  there  any  explanation  of  its 
unique  position.  It  may  well  be  that  here  we  are  confronted 
by  the  final  mystery,  and  that  the  propitiatory  virtue  of 
Christ's  death,  typified  by  the  slaying  of  animal  victims 
under  the  law,  foreshadowed  by  the  almost  universal  belief  in 
the  expiation  of  blood,  acknowledged  with  wondering  grati- 
tude by  the  human  heart,  depends  upon  the  unsearchable  will 
and  hidden  purposes  of  God,  except  in  so  far  as  we  can  see  in  it 
the  manifestation  at  once  of  Christ's  perfect  obedience  and  of  the 
righteousness  of  Divine  judgment.  If  an  attempt  is  made  to 
penetrate  further  into  the  mystery  of  Redemption,  it  can  be 
but  a  speculation,  but  it  will  be  saved  from  overboldness  if  it 
follows  the  general  lines  of  God's  action  as  revealed  in  His 

Some  light  may  be  thrown  upon  the  mystery  of  Christ's 

vii.     The  Atonement.  293 

death  by  considering  the  scriptural  view  of  death  in  general 
as  the  penalty  of  sin.  It  is  not  the  mere  physical  act  of 
dying,  for  that,  as  S.  Athanasius  says,  is  natural  to  man  l,  and 
can  be  traced  in  the  animal  world  in  the  ages  before  man 
existed.  Besides,  our  Lord  is  said  to  have  delivered  us  from 
death,  and  this  clearly  cannot  mean  physical  death,  since  to 
this  all  men  are  still  subject,  but  rather  spiritual  death ;  and  the 
death  which  is  spoken  of  as  the  penalty  of  sin  must  therefore 
also  be  spiritual.  In  this  sense  death  can  be  no  other  than  the 
final  removal  from  us  of  God's  presence,  the  completion  of  the 
alienation  from  the  Divine  life  which  sin  began.  But,  con- 
sidering the  close  connection,  throughout  the  Bible,  of  physical 
and  spiritual  death,  may  it  not  be  that  the  former  is  more  than 
the  symbol  and  type  of  the  latter,  that  it  is  actually  its  consum- 
mation ?  If,  again,  death  be  truly  represented  by  the  Chris- 
tian consciousness  as  the  close  of  man's  probation,  does  not 
this  also  point  to  its  being  the  moment  when  the  light  of 
God's  presence,  the  strength  of  His  life,  is  finally  withdrawn 
from  the  impenitent  sinner,  and  the  spiritual  death,  which  is 
the  one  essential  punishment  of  sin,  falls  upon  him?  The 
sentence  of  death,  then,  under  which  the  whole  world  lay 
apart  from  the  Atonement 2,  was  the  declaration  that  every  man 
who  by  inheritance  and  by  his  own  act  shared  in  Adam's  sin, 
should  at  the  moment  of  physical  death  experience  also  the 
full  measure  of  spiritual  death.  The  common  lot  of  death 
thus  involved  the  consciousness  of  separation  from  the 
life  of  God,  and  when  we  so  regard  it,  we  can  under- 
stand something  of  the  horror  which  its  anticipation  brought 
upon  the  soul  of  the  Son  of  God  3.  He  must  pass  through 
this  last  and  most  awful  human  experience ;  not  only 
because  it  was  human,  but  because  by  the  victorious  endurance 

1  De   Incarn.   VerU   4,   '  Man    is   by  2   It  should  be   remembered  that 

nature  mortal.'     S.  Athanasius  held,  the  Church  has  always  regarded  the 

however,  that  this  '  natural  corrup-  Atonement  as  having  a  retrospective  ef- 

tion '   would   have  been    suspended,  feet,  extending  back  to  the  first  repre- 

but  for  the  Fall,  by  the  help  of  the  sentatives  of  the  human  race. 

Logos  empowering  man  to  live  the  3  Cf.   Schmidt    in    Herzog's    Real. 

Divine  life.      See  on  the  whole  sub-  Encykl.,  Art.  Versonung,  vol.  xvi.  p. 

ject,  The  Christian  Doctrine  of  Sin,  App.  403. 
ii.  p.  536. 

294  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

of  it  alone  could  the  propitiation  be  accomplished.  The 
thought  throws  light  upon  the  prominence  given  to  the  death 
of  Christ,  upon  His  dread  of  it,  upon  His  mysterious  cry  of 
dereliction  upon  the  cross.  It  shews  us  how,  though  the 
experience  was  common  to  man,  yet  in  Him  it  was  in  a  two- 
fold manner  unique.  The  withdrawal  of  God's  presence, 
awful  as  it  is  to  the  sin-hardened  nature  of  man,  must  have 
been  immeasurably  more  bitter  to  Him  Who  was  One  with 
the  Father,  whose  '  meat  was  to  do  the  will  of  His  Father.' 
Just  as  we  may  believe  the  tortures  of  the  cross  to  have  been 
specially  grievous  to  the  perfect  body  which  was  unstained 
by  sin,  though  other  men  have  endured  them,  so,  though  all 
have  to  pass  through  death  with  its  accompanying  terror  of 
the  loss  of  God's  presence,  none  can  realize  what  that  ex- 
perience was  to  Him,  because  He  was  the  Son  of  God.  The 
death  of  Christ  was  therefore  unique  because  of  the  nature  of 
Him  Who  underwent  it.  But  it  was  also  unique  in  its  results. 
No  other  death  had  been  a  propitiation  for  sin,  for  in  no  other 
death  had  this  overwhelming  consciousness  of  dereliction  been 
endured  victoriously,  with  no  failure  of  perfect  obedience,  no 
shrinking  of  the  will  from  the  ordained  task.  In  this  final 
experience  the  offering  was  complete,  the  essence  of  the  pro- 
pitiation was  secured,  for  the  actual  result  of  all  human  sin 
was  herein  made  the  very  revelation  of  holiness  itself,  the 
means  whereby  the  union  with  the  will  of  God,  so  far  from 
being  finally  broken,  was  finally  perfected.  The  propitiatory 
value,  therefore,  of  the  sacrifice  of  Christ  lay  in  His  absolute 
obedience,  in  His  willing  acceptance  of  suffering  which  was 
thereby  acknowledged  as  the  due  reward  of  sin,  and  in  the 
death  which  was  the  essential  form  of  both,  for  death  is  the 
culminating  point  of  the  alienation  from  God,  which  is  both 
sin  and  its  punishment.  He  alone  endured  it  victoriously  and 
without  sin  ;  He  alone,  therefore,  transformed  it  from  the  sign 
and  occasion  of  God's  wrath  into  a  well-pleasing  offering ;  He 
took  the  punishment  and  made  it  a  propitiation.  '  The  chas- 
tisement of  our  peace  was  upon  Him  ;  and  with  His  stripes  we 
are  healed.' 

(c)  So  far  we  have  considered  the  sacrifice  of  Christ  in  its 

vii.      The  Atonement.  295 

aspect  God  wards:  we  have  tried  to  find  an  answer  to  the 
question,  How  did  the  death  of  Christ  propitiate  the  wrath 
of  God  1  There  remains  the  further  question,  How  was  it  a 
sacrifice  for  us  1  It  was,  we  can  see,  a  perfect  offering  accept- 
able to  God  :  but  how  has  it  availed  '  for  us  men '  ?  The  mind 
shrinks  from  a  purely  external  Atonement,  and  part  of  the 
imperfection  of  the  Mosaic  sacrifices  consisted  in  the  merely 
artificial  relation  between  the  offender  and  the  victim.  In 
the  perfect  sacrifice  this  relation  must  be  real;  and  we  are 
thus  led  to  the  truth,  so  often  overlooked,  but  impressed  on 
every  page  of  the  New  Testament,  that  He  who  died  for  our 
sins  was  our  true  representative  in  that  He  was  truly  man. 
Without  for  the  present  going  into  the  more  mystical  doctrine 
of  Christ  as  the  second  Adam,  the  spiritual  head  of  our  race, 
what  is  here  emphasized  is  the  reality  and  perfection  of  His 
human  nature,  which  gave  Him  the  right  to  offer  a  representa- 
tive sacrifice1.  'For  verily  not  of  angels  doth  He  take  hold, 
but  He  taketh  hold  of  the  seed  of  Abraham.  Wherefore  it 
behoved  Him  in  all  things  to  be  made  like  unto  His  brethren, 
that  He  might  be  a  merciful  and  faithful  High  Priest  in  things 
pertaining  to  God,  to  make  propitiation  for  the  sins  of  the 
people.'  Being  thus  '  taken  from  among  men,'  He  was  'ap- 
pointed for — or,  on  behalf  of — men'  and  the  justification  of 
His  Priesthood  is  the  complete  reality  of  His  humanity,  which, 
if  we  may  so  speak,  overlay  and  hid  His  Divinity,  so  that 
'  though  He  was  a  Son,'  unchangeably  '  in  the  form  of  God,' 
'yet  learnt  He  obedience  by  the  things  which  He  suffered/ 
and  thus  became  for  us  a  perfect  Priest.  The  sinless  perfection 
of  Christ,  far  from  removing  Him  out  of  the  sphere  of  our 
sinful  lives,  made  Him  perfectly  representative ;  for  He  not 
only  possessed  in  their  greatest  perfection  all  the  powers  and 
capacities  which  are  the  instruments  of  sin,  but  in  the  strength 
of  His  sinlessness  and  of  His  love  He  could  feel  for  all  men 

1  Irenaeus  is  full  of  this  thought,  also  Athanasius,  de  Tncarn.  Verbi  9,  in 

though   it   is   not  disentangled   from  which    he    suggests    that  it  was  the 

other   explanations  of  the    death  of  Divine   power   of  the   Logos    in    the 

Christ.     Cf.    especially   V.    xxiii.    2  :  bodily    nature    of  Christ   that    made 

'  Recapitulans  enim  universum  homi-  His  sacrifice   representative,  as  well 

nem  in  se  ab  initio  usque  ad  finem,  as  His  death  victorious  over  death, 
recapitulatus   et   mortem   ejus.'     Cf. 

296  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

and  accept  them  as  His  brethren,  though  they  were  sinners. 
Our  High  Priest  '  hath  been  in  all  points  like  as  we  are,  yet 
without  sin.'  The  holiest  man  has  some  part  of  his  nature 
stunted  and  repressed  by  sin,  and  is  so  far  incomplete,  unre- 
presentative :  but  He,  unweakened  and  unmarred  in  any  point 
by  sin,  can  without  .holding  anything  back  represent  human 
nature  in  its  perfection  and  entirety. 

The  representative  character  of  Christ  is  manifested  in  a 
different  aspect,  according  as  He  is  regarded  as  the  victim  or 
as  the  priest  offering  the  sacrifice.  As  the  victim  He  must 
be  the  sin-bearer,  for  the  transfer  of  guilt — which  under  the 
Mosaic  system  was  merely  symbolised  by  the  act  of  laying 
hands  on  the  victim's  head — must  for  a  true  propitiatory 
sacrifice  be  more  than  external  and  artificial.  That  is  to  say, 
there  must  be  a  real  meaning  in  S.  Paul's  tremendous  words, 
'  Him  Who  knew  no  sin  He  made  to  be  sin  on  our  behalf,'  in 
the  passages  in  which  He  is  described  as  bearing  our  sins  1,  in 
the  great  prophecy  which  told  that  '  the  Lord  hath  laid  on 
Him  the  iniquity  of  us  all.'  How  can  we  find  an  explanation 
of  the  paradox  so  boldly  stated  by  S.  Paul,  that  He  who  knew 
no  sin  was  yet  made  sin1?  We  may  not  surely  take  all  these 
plain  phrases  to  that  He  bore  the  punishment  of  our 
sins :  it  would  have  been  easy  to  say  that  had  it  been  meant. 
No,  the  relation  typified  by  the  Mosaic  offerings  must  be  real, 
and  yet  the  expression  '  He  made  Him  to  be  sin '  cannot 
without  blasphemy  be  understood  to  mean  that  God  the 
Father  actually  made  His  Son  to  sin.  The  solution  of  the 
difficulty  can  only  be  found  in  the  truth  of  the  Incarnation. 
In  order  that  the  sacrifice  might  be  representative.  He  took 
upon  Him  the  whole  of  our  human  nature,  and  became  flesh, 
conditioned  though  that  fleshly  nature  was  throughout  by 
sin 2.  It  was  not  only  in  His  death  that  we  contemplate 
Him  as  the  sin-bearer,  but  throughout  His  life  He  was,  as 
it  were,  conditioned  by  the  sinfulness  of  those  with  whom  His 

1  See  especially  Heb.  ix.  28,  which  '  Hominem  sine  peccato,  non  sine 

is  an  echo  of  the  LXX.  of  Is.  liii.  12.  peccatoris  conditione  suscepit.  Nam 

3  Athan.  c.  Ar.  i.  43 :  '  He  put  on  et  nasci  humanitus,  et  pati  et  mori 

the  flesh  which  was  enslaved  to  sin.'  voluit.'  I  owe  this  reference  to 

Cf.  also  Augustine,  de  Musica  VI.  iv  :  Norris,  Rudiments  of  Theology,  p.  61  n. 

vii.      The  Atonement.  297 

human  nature  brought  Him  into  close  and  manifold  relations. 
The  Crucifixion  does  not  come  as  the  unexpectedly  shame- 
ful end  of  a  glorious  and  untroubled  life,  though  it  was 
undoubtedly  in  a  special  sense  the  manifestation  of  the 
'curse'  under  which  He  laid  Himself.  We  cannot  say 
that  at  a  given  moment  in  His  life,  as  when  the  sinner's 
hands  were  laid  upon  the  victim's  head  and  his  guilt 
was  transferred,  He  began  to  bear  our  iniquity,  for  the  very 
nature  which  He  took,  freed  though  it  was  in  Him  from  here- 
ditary guilt,  was  in  itself,  by  its  necessary  human  relations,  sin- 
bearing.  Nor  did  His  personal  sinlessness  make  this  impossible 
or  unreal ;  rather  it  intensified  it.  As  S.  Matthew  tells  us,  even 
in  relation  to  bodily  sickness  and  infirmity,  that  He  bore 
what  He  took  away — '  Himself  took  our  infirmities,  and  bare 
our  diseases ' — so  it  was  with  our  redemption  from  sin.  In 
taking  it  away,  He  had  to  bear  its  weight,  intensified  by 
reason  of  that  very  self-sacrificing  love  which  made  Him 
realize  with  more  than  human  keenness  the  sinfulness  of  the 
human  nature  into  which  He  had  come.  There  is  thus  no- 
thing artificial  or  external  in  His  sin-bearing,  for  His  human 
nature  was  so  real  and  so  perfect  that  He  was  involved,  so  to 
speak,  in  all  the  consequences  of  the  sin  which  is  so  tremendous 
a  factor  in  human  life,  even  to  the  enduring  of  the  very  suf- 
ferings and  death  which  in  us  are  the  penal  results  and  final 
outcome  of  sin,  but  in  Him  were  the  means  of  His  free  self- 

Once  more  He  was  our  representative  as  the  Priest  who 
offered  the  sacrifice.  The  requisite  conditions  of  such  an  office 
are  stated,  in  the  Epistle  to  the  Hebrews,  to  be  complete 
human  sympathy,  and  yet  such  separateness  from  sin,  and 
from  all  limitations  of  incompleteness,  as  can  only  be  Divine. 
'It  behoved  Him  in  all  things  to  be  made  like  unto  His 
brethren,  that  He  might  be  a  merciful  and  faithful  high 
priest ; '  '  but  He,  because  He  abideth  for  ever,  hath  His 
priesthood  unchangeable  .  .  .  for  such  a  high  priest  became  us, 
holy,  harmless,  undefiled,  separated  from  sinners,  and  made 
higher  than  the  heavens  ; '  '  for  the  law  appointeth  men  high 
priests,  having  infirmity ;  but  the  word  of  the  oath,  which 

298  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

was  after  the  Jaw,  appointeth  a  Son,  perfected  for  evermore  V 
In  these  and  similar  passages  the  doctrine  of  the  Priesthood 
of  Christ  is  developed,  and  it  is  obvious  that  quite  as  much 
stress  is  laid  on  His  unlikeness,  as  on  His  likeness  to  us 2. 
He  is  our  representative  as  Priest,  because  He  is  both  man  and 
more  than  man,  and  can  therefore  perform  for  us  what  we  could 
not  and  cannot  perform  for  ourselves,  in  offering  the  perfect 
propitiatory  sacrifice.  Here  is  the  true  vicariousness  of  the 
Atonement,  which  consisted,  not,  as  we  shall  see  later,  in  the 
substitution  of  His  punishment  for  ours,  but  in  His  offering 
the  sacrifice  which  man  had  neither  purity  nor  power  to  offer. 
From  out  of  the  very  heart  and  centre  of  the  human  nature 
which  was  so  enslaved  and  corrupted  by  sin  that  no  human 
offering  was  acceptable  to  God  there  is  raised  the  sinless 
sacrifice  of  perfect  humanity  by  the  God-Man,  our  great 
High  Priest:  human  in  the  completeness  of  His  sympathy, 
Divine  in  the  unique  power  of  His  Priesthood.  So  is  the 
condition  of  the  law  of  righteousness  fulfilled,  and  the  sacri- 
fice of  obedience  unto  death  is  offered  by  His  submission  to 
all  that  constitutes  in  sinners  the  consummation  and  the 
punishment  of  their  sin,  which  He  transformed  into  the 
occasion  and  the  manifestation  of  His  perfect  holiness.  And 
it  is  a  representative  sacrifice,  for  unique  though  it  is,  it  con- 
sists of  no  unheard-of  experience,  of  no  merely  symbolical 
ceremony,  unrelated  and  unmeaning  to  us  ;  but  of  just  those 
universal  incidents  of  suffering  which,  though  He  must  have 
felt  them  with  a  bitterness  unknown  to  us,  are  intensely 
human — poverty,  misunderstanding,  failure,  treachery,  re- 
jection, bodily  anguish,  spiritual  desolation,  death.  'Surely 
He  hath  borne  our  griefs,  and  carried  our  sorrows  . .  .  The 
chastisement  of  our  peace  was  upon  Him,'  and  therefore  '  by 
His  stripes  we  are  healed.' 

2.  It  is  not  enough  to  consider  the  death  of  Christ  only  as 
propitiatory,  or  as  standing  alone  in  relation  to  our  redemp- 

1  Heb.  ii.  17;  vii.  24,  26,  28:  cf.  Man,  by  taking  created  flesh;  that, 

ix.  13,  14,  24,  25,  26;  x.  n,  12,  13,  since  all  were  under  sentence  of 

14-  death,  He,  being  other  than  them  oW, 

-  Cf.  Athan.  c.  Ar.  ii.  69:  'He sends  might  Himself  for  all  offer  to  death 

His  own  Son,  and  He  becomes  Son  of  His  own  body.' 

vii.     The  Atonement.  299 

tion.  We  have  seen  how  it  secured  our  propitiation,  and  in 
what  sense  it  has  a  unique  place  in  relation  both  to  our  Lord 
Himself  and  to  man.  There  remains  the  further  aspect  of 
His  redemptive  work,  in  which  it  is  regarded  as  effecting  our 
reunion  with  God  by  delivering  us  from  the  power  of  sin, 
and  by  filling  us  with  the  Divine  gift  of  life.  This,  it  should 
be  noticed,  is  the  conception  of  our  Lord's  work  which  was 
chiefly  in  the  minds  of  the  early  Christian  writers,  though  in 
almost  all  it  was  combined  with  the  acknowledgment  of  His 
deliverance  of  man  from  guilt  and  from  the  wrath  of  God  by 
His  representative  propitiation1.  But  to  their  consciousness 
the  power  of  sin  and  of  the  spiritual  forces  with  which  man 
is  surrounded  was  so  continually  present,  that  they  were 
naturally  inclined  to  look  mainly  at  that  side  of  the  Atone- 
ment which  represents  it  as  the  victory  over  sin  and  Satan 
and  the  restoration  of  man  to  the  life  of  God.  And  this  view, 
though  by  no  means  to  the  exclusion  of  the  propitiatory 
aspect,  is  amply  justified  by  the  Bible.  Considered  as  re- 
storation, there  seem  to  be  three  grades  or  stages  of  redemp- 
tion indicated  in  the  New  Testament.  First,  there  is  the 
unanimous  declaration  that  the  object  of  our  Lord's  life  and 
death  was  to  free  us  from  sin.  In  the  most  sacrificial  de- 
scriptions of  His  work  this  further  result  of  the  Atonement  is 
implied.  The  'Lamb  of  God'  is  to  'take  away  the  sin  of 
the  world ' ;  His  Blood  was  to  be  '  shed  for  the  remission  of 
sins ' ;  by  '  the  precious  Blood  of  Jesus  Christ  as  of  a  Lamb 
without  blemish '  men  were  '  redeemed  from  their  vain  con- 
versation ' ;  He  '  gave  Himself  for  us,  that  He  might  redeem 
us  from  all  iniquity.'  In  the  next  place,  this  deliverance 
from  sin  is  identified  with  the  gift  of  life,  which  is  repeat- 
edly connected  with  our  Lord's  life  and  death.  '  I  am  come 
that  they  might  have  life ' ;  for  '  I  will  give  My  flesh  for  the 
life  of  the  world.'  '  He  died  for  all,  that  they  which  live 

1  The  two   aspects   of  the  Atone-  fresh  beginning  of  life,  in   that  He 

ment  are  frequently  presented  by  S.  bestowed    on  us  the  hope   of  ivsur- 

Athanasius,  delncarn.  VerW.    Thus  (ch.  rection.'    Cf.  also  chs.  8  and  9.    Again 

10)    'By  the    sacrifice    of    His   own  (ch.  25),  'As  He   offered  His  Body 

Body  He  both  put  an  end  to  the  law  unto  death  for  all ;  so  by  it  He  again 

which  was  against  us,  and  gave  us  a  threw  open  the  way  to  heaven.' 

300  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

should  not  henceforth  live  unto  themselves,  but  unto  Him 
who  died  for  them  and  rose  again.'  He  '  bare  our  sins  in  His 
own  body  on  the  tree,  that  we  being  dead  to  sins  might  live 
unto  righteousness.'  Lastly,  this  new  life  is  to  issue  in  union 
with  the  life  of  God  in  Christ.  '  Christ  suffered  for  sins,  the 
just  for  the  unjust,  that  He  might  bring  us  to  God.'  '  In 
Christ  Jesus  ye  that  once  were  far  off  are  made  nigh  in  the 
Blood  of  Christ.'  In  such  passages  the  Apostles  are  only 
drawing  out  the  meaning  of  our  Lord's  own  declaration,  '  I, 
if  I  be  lifted  up,  will  draw  all  men  unto  Me.' 

Our  Lord's  death  is  thus  intimately  connected  by  the  New 
Testament  writers  with  the  restoration  of  man  to  union  with 
God  by  means  of  the  gift  of  life ;  but  it  should  be  noticed  that, 
unique  and  necessary  as  His  death  was,  it  is  continually 
spoken  of  in  close  connection  with  the  Resurrection  or  the 
Ascension,  for  in  these,  as  was  foreshadowed  by  the  typical 
ceremonies  of  the  Law,  the  sacrifice  culminated  by  the  pre- 
sentation of  the  'life  which  had  willingly  passed  through 
death'  before  the  altar  of  God's  presence.  The  reason  is  clear. 
Pardon  for  the  past,  deliverance  from  guilt,  propitiation  of 
the  just  wrath  of  God,  are  necessary  and  all-important;  but 
they  cannot  stand  alone.  They  must,  for  man  is  helpless 
and  weak,  be  succeeded  by  the  gift  of  life,  and  for  this  we 
must  look  to  those  mighty  acts  in  which  the  One  Sacrifice 
reached  its  full  consummation.  Thus  our  Lord  Himself 
declares  that  He  died  in  order  to  rise  again  ;  '  I  lay  down 
My  life  that  [in  order  that]  I  may  take  it  again.'  So  to 
S.  Paul  the  Resurrection  is  the  necessary  completion  of  the 
process  which  was  begun  by  the  death.  '  He  was  delivered 
for  our  offences,  and  was  raised  again  for  our  justification.' 
'  If  while  we  were  enemies,  we  were  reconciled  to  God  through 
the  death  of  His  Son,  much  more  being  reconciled,  shall  we 
be  saved  through  [in]  His  life.'  '  We  were  buried  with  Him 
through  baptism  unto  death  ;  that  [in  order  that]  like  as 
Christ  was  raised  from  the  dead  through  the  glory  of  the 
Father,  so  we  also  might  walk  in  newness  of  life.'  Even  the 
passages  which  speak  of  our  salvation  as  effected  by  virtue  of 
Christ's  Blood,  refer,  according  to  the  Jewish  conception  of 

vii.      The  Atonement.  301 

the  {  blood  which  is  the  life,'  not  only,  or  even  chiefly,  to  the 
bloodshedding  in  death,  but  to  the  heavenly  '  sprinkling '  of 
the  principle  of  life,  its  presentation  in  heaven  by  means  of  the 
Resurrection  and  Ascension.  The  whole  process  is  described 
in  what  may  be  called  the  central  core  of  S.  Paul's  theology, 
the  eighth  chapter  of  the  Epistle  to  the  Romans.  '  It  is  Christ 
Jesus  that  died,  yea  rather,  that  was  raised  from  the  dead,  who 
is  at  the  Right  Hand  of  God,  who  also  maketh  intercession  for 
us.'  It  has  been  the  fault  of  much  popular  theology  to  think 
only  of  our  deliverance  from  wrath  by  the  sacrificial  death  of 
Christ,  and  to  neglect  the  infinitely  important  continuation 
of  the  process  thus  begun.  The  Gospel  is  a  religion  of  life, 
the  call  to  a  life  of  union  with  God  by  means  of  the  grace 
which  flows  from  the  mediation  of  the  risen  and  ascended 
Saviour.  We  need  not  discuss  the  comparative  importance 
of  the  two  aspects  of  the  work  of  Atonement,  for  propitiation 
and  reunion,  pardon  and  life  are  alike  necessary  elements  in 
salvation,  and  by  the  love  of  God  in  Christ  are  united  in  the 
sacrifice  which  was  begun  on  Calvary,  and  is  for  ever  presented 
for  our  redemption  before  the  throne  of  God  in  heaven. 

3.  So  far  we  have  been  considering  the  Atonement  as 
our  Lord's  work  on  behalf  of  men :  we  have  now  to  consider 
it  as  meeting  the  inevitable  demand  of  the  human  conscience 
that  this  vicarious  sacrifice  shall  in  some  way  satisfy  man's 
sense  of  personal  responsibility  ;  that  by  means  of  the  Atone- 
ment man  shall,  so  far  as  he  can,  make  amends  for  his  own 
sin.  The  charge  of  injustice,  as  it  is  generally  urged  against 
the  doctrine  of  the  Atonement,  rests,  as  will  be  shewn,  upon 
a  fundamental  misconception  as  to  the  nature  of  Christ's 
work  for  us  ;  but  it  is  also  commonly  assumed  that  by  the 
death  of  Christ  all  was  done  for  man,  and  nothing  in  man, 
so  that  we  are  thereby  relieved  of  all  responsibility  for  our 
own  wilful  acts.  It  is  this  notion  that  we  have  now  to 
investigate.  First,  however,  we  must  acknowledge  the  truth 
contained  in  it.  The  Atonement  is,  after  all,  God's  forgive- 
ness of  us  in  Christ,  and  no  forgiveness  is  conceivable  which 
does  not  in  some  degree  relieve  the  offender  of  the  conse- 
quences of  his  offence.  Human  forgiveness,  though  it  may 

302  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

in  some  cases,  perhaps,  remit  no  part  of  the  external  penalty 
due  to  wrong-doing,  must,  in  the  very  act  of  forgiving,  put 
away  and  abolish  the  anger  of  the  offended  person,  the  alien- 
ation which  the  offence  has  caused,  and  which  is  certainly 
part,  sometimes  the  greatest  part,  of  the  penal  consequences 
of  an  offence.  Human  forgiveness,  therefore,  necessarily 
transgresses  the  strict  law  of  retribution :  yet  no  one  can 
seriously  contend  that  forgiveness  is  either  impossible  or 
immoral.  And  more  than  this,  there  is  even  in  our  imper- 
fect forgiveness  a  power  to  blot  out  guilt,  and  to  restore 
the  offender  to  new  life.  Inexplicable  though  the  fact 
may  be,  experience  tells  us  that  forgiveness  avails  to  lift 
the  load  of  guilt  that  presses  upon  an  offender.  A  change 
passes  over  him  that  can  only  be  described  as  regenerative, 
life-giving ;  and  thus  the  assurance  of  pardon,  however  con- 
veyed, may  be  said  to  obliterate  in  some  degree  the  conse- 
quences of  the  past 1.  It  is  true  that  this  result  of  forgiveness 
cannot  be  explained  logically  so  as  to  satisfy  the  reason,  but 
the  possibility  and  the  power  of  pardon  are  nevertheless  facts 
of  human  experience.  The  Atonement  is  undoubtedly  a 
mystery,  but  all  forgiveness  is  a  mystery.  The  Atonement 
undoubtedly  transgresses  the  strict  law  of  exact  retribution, 
but  all  forgiveness  transgresses  it.  And  we  may  believe  that 
human  forgiveness  is,  in  spite  of  all  its  imperfection,  like  that 
of  God,  for  this  is  surely  the  lesson  of  the  Lord's  Prayer, 
'  Forgive  us  our  trespasses,  as  we  forgive  them  that  trespass 
against  us.'  Experience  and  conscience,  therefore,  lead  us  to 
expect  that  the  Divine  method  of  forgiveness  will  both  dis- 
prove the  exaggerated  idea  of  personal  responsibility,  which 
is  based  on  a  false  estimate  of  man's  power,  and  will  also 
transcend  reason  by  rising  into  a  region  of  mystery  and  of 
miracle2.  We  have  to  deal  in  this  sphere  of  pardon  with 
a  God  Who  '  declares  His  almighty  power  most  chiefly  in 
showing  mercy  and  pity.' 

1  Cf.  Westcott,  Historic  Faith,  p.  133.  ment   of  sin  (cf.  against  this  Dale, 

2  Cf.  Magee,  The  Gospel  and  the  Age,  The  Atomment,  Lect.  viii)  and  to  over- 
pp.  270  ff.     Bishop  Magee,  however,  look  the  force  of  the   analogy  from 
seems  to  exaggerate  the  certainty  and  human  experience  of  forgiveness, 
relentlessness  of  the  temporal  punish- 

vii.      The  Atonement.  303 

One  aspect  of  this  mystery  is  to  be  found  in  the  truth, 
stamped  on  every  page  of  the  New  Testament,  of  the  mystical 
union  between  Christ  and  His  people.  By  virtue  of  this  union 
His  acts  are  ascribed  to  us  ;  and  thus,  according  to  S.  Paul,  we 
died  in  Him,  we  are  raised  in  Him,  and  the  sacrifice  which 
He  offered,  we  have  also  offered,  as  in  Him.  The  doctrine  of 
the  Second  Adam,  of  the  spiritual  headship  of  Christ,  would  not 
indeed  if  it  stood  alone  satisfy  the  demands  of  the  conscience  ; 
but  when  taken  in  connection  with  the  practical  sacramental 
teaching  which  is  based  upon  it,  it  points  to  the  solution  of  the 
problem.  By  the  Incarnation  we  are  taken  up  into  Him,  and 
therefore  the  acts  that  in  His  human  nature  He  performed  are 
our  acts,  by  virtue  of  that  union  which  is  described  by  Him  as 
the  union  of  a  vine  with  its  branches,  by  S.  Paul  as  that  of  the 
head  with  the  members  of  a  body.  But  in  considering  the 
results  of  this  union,  the  reciprocal  communication  of  the 
weakness  of  our  bodily  nature  to  Him,  of  His  victorious  deeds 
in  the  body  to  us,  a  distinction  must  be  drawn  between  that 
part  of  His  work  which  can,  and  that  which  cannot  be  shared 
by  us.  Of  one  part  of  His  work,  of  the  sacrifice  which  He 
offered  for  man's  guilt,  the  essence  was  its  vicariousness.  Man 
could  not  and  never  can  offer  a  sacrifice  which  can  avail  to  pro- 
pitiate for  the  sins  of  the  past.  It  is  only  in  virtue  of  that  one 
final  and  perfect  propitiation  that  we  can  draw  nigh  to  God,  can 
accomplish  anything  good,  can  recognise  that  we  are  delivered 
from  wrath.  The  sins  of  the  past  are  cancelled,  the  guilt  is 
wiped  out :  in  this  respect  all  was  accomplished  by  Him  for 
us  who  are  in  Him,  and  nothing  remains  for  us  to  do.  He  as 
our  Representative,  because  He  shares  our  nature,  can  offer 
for  us  a  prevailing  sacrifice  ;  only  as  His  brethren,  because  He 
has  united  us  to  Him,  are  we  enabled  to  plead  the  sacrifice  which 
He  offered.  It  is  indeed  offered  for  us,  for  it  was  utterly  im- 
possible that  we  could  offer  it  for  ourselves ;  it  was  the  neces- 
sary initial  step,  which  man  could  not  take,  towards  union 
with  the  righteous  Father.  As  our  spiritual  head,  the  second 
Adam,  the  captain  of  our  salvation,  He  had  the  right  of  offer- 
ing on  our  behalf ;  as  in  Him  by  virtue  of  the  Incarnation  we 
are  empowered  to  claim  the  infinite  blessings  of  the  redemption 

304  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

so  obtained x.  If  this  is  mysterious,  irrational,  transcendental, 
so  is  all  morality  ;  for  at  the  root  of  all  morality  lies  the  power 
of  self-sacrifice,  which  is  nothing  but  the  impulse  of  love  to 
make  a  vicarious  offering  for  its  fellows,  and  the  virtue  of  such 
an  offering  to  restore  and  to  quicken 2.  The  righteousness  of 
God  required  from  the  human  nature  which  had  sinned  the 
sacrifice  of  a  perfect  obedience  manifested  in  and  through 
death :  that  is  the  unique  and  unapproachable  mystery  of  the 
Atonement ;  but  that  the  sacrifice  should  be  offered  by  a  sin- 
less Man,  and  that  we  should  be  accepted  by  God  in  virtue  of 
His  propitiation  and  because  of  our  union  with  Him,  that, 
though  mysterious  enough,  as  human  reason  counts  mystery, 
is  prefigured  and  illustrated  and  explained  by  all  the  deepest 
experiences  of  the  race,  by  all  that  is  most  human,  though  it 
most  evades  logical  analysis,  in  our  moral  consciousness  3. 

There  is  then  no  additional  propitiation  demanded  from 
us.  The  Atonement,  in  this  aspect,  requires  nothing  from 
us,  for  the  forgiveness  is  there,  bestowed  upon  us  by  God 
in  consequence  of  the  sacrifice  of  Jesus  Christ.  But  like 
the  gifts  of  grace  which  come  after  forgiveness,  the  forgive- 
ness itself  has  to  be  personally  accepted  by  us  ;  it  must  be 
brought  into  contact  with  each  man's  will.  So  regarded,  the 
Atonement,  though  the  great  gift  of  reconciliation  is  absolutely 
free,  the  product  of  the  spontaneous  love  of  God,  does  lay 
upon  us  an  obligation.  On  our  part  faith  is  demanded  that 
we  may  realize,  and  appropriate,  and  associate  ourselves  with 
the  pardon  which  is  ours  in  Christ.  This  is  not  the  place  for 
a  full  discussion  of  justifying  faith :  it  is  enough  to  indicate 
what  seems  to  be  its  relation  to  the  Atonement,  as  being  man's 
share  in  the  propitiatory  work  of  Christ.  It  is  often  said  that 
the  faith  which  justifies  is  simply  trust  4,  but  it  must  surely 
be  a  more  complex  moral  act  than  this.  If  faith  is  the 

1  Cf.  Ath.  c.  Ar.  iii.  34.     'As  the  see  Holland,  Creed  and  Character,  pp. 

Lord  in  putting  on  the  body,  became  212  ff. 

Man,  so  we  men  are  made  gods  by  3  On  the  truth  of  the  solidarity  of 

the   Word,    being    taken    into   Him  all  men  in  Christ,  see  Westcott,  The 

through  His  Flesh,  and  from  hence-  Victory  of  the  Cross,  pp.  6-53. 

forth  inherit  life  eternal.'  *  See  e.g.  Moule,  Outlines  ofCliristian 

3  For  this  thought  fully  drawn  out,  Doctrine,  p.  185. 

vii.     The  Atonement.  305 

acceptance  of  Christ's  propitiation,  it  must  contain,  in  the  first 
place,  that  longing  for  reconciliation  which  springs  from  the 
personal  consciousness  of  sin  as  alienation  from  God,  and 
from  horror  of  its  guilt  and  power.  There  must  then  ensue 
the  recognition  of  man's  complete  powerlessness  to  free  him- 
self from  sin,  and  a  deeply  humble  sense  of  dependence  on 
God's  mercy  ;  but  this  mere  trust  in  His  mercy  is  not  enough, 
for  it  would  not  satisfy  the  sense  of  sin.  The  sinner  has  to 
own  that  God  is  not  merely  benevolent,  and  that  sin  must  be 
punished.  Therefore  faith  must  contain  the  recognition  of 
the  justice  of  the  Divine  law  against  sin,  manifested  in  the 
death  of  Christ.  Faith,  in  short,  starts  from  the  longing  for  a 
representative  to  atone  for  us,  and  it  ends  with  the  recognition 
of  Christ  as  our  representative,  of  His  Atonement  as  sufficient, 
and  of  His  death  as  displaying  the  due  reward  of  sin.  For 
the  Atonement  cannot  be  a  mere  external  act.  If  Christ  is 
our  representative,  He  must  be  acknowledged  by  those  whom 
He  represents  :  otherwise  His  endurance  of  suffering  would 
avail  nothing  for  them,  for  God  will  not  be  satisfied  with  the 
mere  infliction  of  punishment.  But  if  the  result  of  His  death 
is  that  men  are  brought,  one  by  one,  age  after  age,  to  acknow- 
ledge the  righteousness  of  the  law  for  which  He  suffered,  to 
recognise  the  result  of  sin  to  which  sin  has  blinded  them,  then 
there  has  been  made  on  their  part  the  first  step  towards  the 
great  reconciliation.  Faith  identifies  the  individual  with  the 
sacrifice  which  has  been  offered  for  him,  and  therefore  with 
Christ's  attitude  towards  God  and  towards  sin,  and  though  it 
is  but  the  first  step,  yet  it  is  emphatically  that  by  reason  of 
which  we  are  justified.  For  since  we  are  thus  identified  with 
the  sacrifice,  God  accepts  the  first  step  for  the  whole  course,  of 
which  it  is  the  pledge  and  anticipation.  We  are  justified  be- 
cause we  believe  in  God,  but  also  because  God  believes  in  us1. 
Faith,  being  what  it  is,  a  complex  moral  act  whereby  Christ's 
propitiation  is  accepted  by  man,  implies  an  attitude  of  mind 
towards  sin  so  right  that,  though  it  is  but  the  first  movement 

1  Cf.  Aug.  de  Trin.  i.  10  :    '  Tales  nos  amat  Deus,  quales  futuri  sumus,  non 
quales  sumus.' 


306  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

of  the  soul  in  Christ,  God  takes  it  for  the  whole,  sees  us  as 
wholly  in  Him,  reckons  it  to  us  as  righteousness.  But  only 
because  it  is  as  a  matter  of  fact  the  first,  the  hardest,  perhaps, 
and  the  most  necessary,  but  still  only  the  first  step  towards  com- 
plete sanctification.  And,  if  we  now  ask  what  is  the  further 
course  of  sanctification,  the  answer  will  shew  the  full  relation 
of  the  sacrifice  of  Christ  to  man's  will  and  conscience.  For 
the  life  of  sanctification  is  nothing  else  but  the  '  imitation  of 
Christ '  in  that  task  of  '  learning  obedience  '  to  which  His  life 
was  devoted,  and  which  His  death  completed.  In  us,  too,  as 
in  Him,  that  task  has  to  be  accomplished  by  suffering.  '  He 
learnt  obedience  by  the  things  which  He  suffered.'  '  It  be- 
came Him  ...  in  bringing  many  sons  unto  glory,  to  make  the 
Captain  of  their  salvation  perfect  through  sufferings.'  That 
same  path  towards  perfection  lies  before  all  who  are  justified 
by  faith  in  His  atoning  sacrifice.  For  justification  is  a  spiritual 
act  answering  to  the  spiritual  act  of  faith.  The  spiritual  germ 
of  vitality  thus  implanted  in  us  has  to  be  developed  in  the 
sphere  in  which  the  consequences  of  sin  naturally  and  inevit- 
ably work  themselves  out,  in  the  bodily  nature  of  man.  '  Even 
we,'  says  S.  Paul,  '  which  have  the  firstfruits  of  the  Spirit,' 
even  we  are  waiting  for  the  further  process,  for  '  the  adoption, 
to  wit,  the  redemption  of  our  body.'  And  the  process  consists 
in  so  following  '  the  Captain  of  our  salvation '  that,  like  Him, 
we  accept  every  one  of  those  sufferings  which  are  the  conse- 
quences of  sin,  but  accept  them  not  as  punishment  imposed 
from  without  upon  unwilling  offenders,  but  as  the  material  of 
our  freewill  sacrifice.  From  no  one  pang  or  trial  of  our 
nature  has  He  delivered  us,  indeed,  He  has  rather  laid  them 
upon  us  more  unsparingly,  more  inevitably.  But  the  suffer- 
ings from  which  He  would  not  deliver  us  He  has  transformed 
for  us.  They  are  no  longer  penal,  but  remedial  and  peniten- 
tial. Pain  has  become  the  chastisement  of  a  Father  who 
loves  us,  and  death  the  passage  into  His  very  presence.  And 
this  He  has  done  for  us  by  the  bestowal  upon  us  of  spiritual 
vitality.  The  germ  is  implanted  by  the  act  of  forgiveness 
which  removes  the  wrath  and  the  impending  death,  and  this 
germ  of  life,  cherished  and  developed  by  the  gifts  which  flow 

vii.     The  Atonement.  307 

from  His  mediation  and  intercession,  by  the  Holy  Spirit 
Whom  He  sends  to  dwell  in  us,  works  on  all  the  penalties  of 
sin,  and  makes  them  the  sacrifice  which  we  offer  in  Him. 
This  is  the  '  law  of  the  Spirit  of  life.'  '  If  Christ  be  in  you, 
the  body  is  dead  because  of  sin  ;  but  the  Spirit  is  life  because 
of  righteousness.  But  if  the  Spirit  of  Him  that  raised  up 
Jesus  from  the  dead  dwell  in  you,  He  that  raised  up  Christ 
from  the  dead  shall  also  quicken  your  mortal  bodies  by  His 
Spirit  that  dwelleth  in  you.' 

Our  personal  share  then  in  the  Atonement  is  not  mere 
passivity.  It  consists,  first,  in  the  acceptance  of  God's  for- 
giveness in  Christ,  our  self-identification  with  Christ's  atoning 
attitude,  and  then  in  working  out,  by  the  power  of  the  life 
bestowed  upon  us,  all  the  consequences  of  forgiveness,  the 
transformation  of  punishment  into  sacrifice,  the  imitation  of 
Christ  in  His  perfect  obedience  to  the  law  of  righteousness,  the 
gradual  sanctification  of  body,  soul  and  spirit  by  the  grace 
which  enables  us  to  '  suffer  with  Him.' 

III.  The  doctrine  of  Atonement,  more  than  any  of  the  great 
truths  of  Christianity,  has  been  misconceived  and  misrepre- 
sented, and  has  therefore  not  only  been  rejected  itself,  but  has 
sometimes  been  the  cause  of  the  rejection  of  the  whole  Chris- 
tian system.  The  truth  of  the  vicarious  sacrifice  has  been  iso- 
lated till  it  has  almost  become  untrue,  and,  mysterious  as  it  un- 
doubtedly is,  it  has  been  so  stated  as  to  be  not  only  mysterious, 
but  contrary  to  reason  and  even  to  conscience.  One  most 
terrible  misconception  it  is  hardly  necessary  to  do  more  than 
mention.  The  truth  of  the  wrath  of  God  against  sin  and  of 
the  love  of  Christ  by  which  that  wrath  was  removed,  has  been 
perverted  into  a  belief  in  a  divergence  of  will  between  God 
the  Father  and  God  the  Son,  as  if  it  was  the  Father's  will 
that  sinners  should  perish,  the  Son's  will  that  they  should  be 
saved  ;  as  if  the  Atonement  consisted  in  the  propitiation  of 
the  wrathful  God  by  the  substituted  punishment  of  the  inno- 
cent for  the  guilty.  It  will  be  seen  that  while  this  statement 
seems  to  represent  the  Catholic  doctrine,  in  reality  it  intro- 
duces a  most  vital  difference.  There  can  be  no  divergence  of 
will  between  the  Persons  of  the  Blessed  Trinity  ;  and,  in  regard 

308  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

to  this  special  dealing  with  man,  we  have  the  clearest  testimony 
of  Revelation  that  the  whole  Godhead  shared  in  the  work. 
Here,  as  always,  God  the  Father  is  revealed  as  the  source  and 
origin  of  all  good.  '  God  so  loved  the  world  that  He  gave 
His  only  begotten  Son,  that  whosoever  believeth  in  Him 
should  not  perish,  but  have  everlasting  life.'  '  God  was  in 
Christ  reconciling  the  world  to  Himself.'  The  beginning  and 
the  end  of  the  Atonement  is  the  love  of  God :  the  death  of  Christ 
was  not  the  cause,  but  the  revelation  of  that  love 1.  That  it 
was  the  second  Person  of  the  Trinity  who  was  actually  the 
means  of  our  redemption  may  be  ascribed  to  that  original 
relation  of  the  Logos  to  the  human  race,  by  which  He  was 
both  its  Creator  and  its  perfect  exemplar  2.  But  nothing  can 
be  further  from  the  truth  than  to  imagine  that  His  was  all  the 
love  which  saved  us,  the  Father's  all  the  wrath  which  con- 
demned us.  If  the  death  of  Christ  was  necessary  to  propitiate 
the  wrath  of  the  Father,  it  was  necessary  to  propitiate  His 
own  wrath  also ;  if  it  manifested  His  love,  it  manifested  the 
Father's  love  also.  The  absolute,  unbroken,  unity  of  will 
between  the  Father  and  the  Son  is  the  secret  of  the  atonin; 

Again,  the  isolation  of  the  truth  of  the  Atonement  from 
other  parts  of  Christian  doctrine  has  led  to  a  mode  of  stating 
it  which  deprives  us  of  all  motive  to  action,  of  all  responsi- 
bility for  our  own  salvation.   Just  as  the  misconception  notice 
above  arose  from  a  failure  to  grasp  the  whole  truth  of  ou 
Lord's  Divinity,  so  this  error  springs  from  ignoring  His  per- 
fect Humanity.     Christ  is  regarded  as  having  no  vital  or  re 
relation  to  us,  and  His  work  is  therefore  wholly  external, 
mere  gift  from  above.     But  what  has  already  been  said 
shew  that  from  the  first  the  Atonement  has  been  taught 
the  offering  of  our  spiritual  Head,  in  Whom  we  are  redeeme 
and  whose  example  we  are  able  to  follow  as  having  Him  i 

1  This   is   well  stated   by   McLeod  that  the  world   should   honour  anj 

Campbell,  1.  c.  p.  16.  other  as  the  Saviour  but  Him  Whor 

'*  Cf.    Athan.    de  Inc.   passim,    esp.  it   honoureth  as  the  Creator  of  the 

chs.  20  and  42.    Hooker,  Eccles.  Pol.  V.  world.' 
li.  3,  'Itseemeth  a  thing  un consonant 

vii.     The  Atonement.  309 

us.  Salvation  is  thus  given  to  us  indeed,  but  it  is  given  to 
us  because  we  are  in  Christ,  and  we  have  to  work  out  our 
share  in  it  because  of  the  responsibility,  the  call  to  sacrifice 
which  that  union  with  Him  lays  upon  us.  '  Work  out  your 
own  salvation  with  fear  and  trembling,  for  it  is  God  which 
worketh  in  you  both  to  will  and  to  do.'  It  is  all  from  God 
and  of  God  ;  but  God  has  come  into  our  life,  and  taken  us  up 
into  Him,  and  called  upon  us  to  follow  Him  in  the  way  of  the 

And  this  leads  us  to  consider  another  error,  or  rather  an- 
other form  of  the  same  error.     Nothing  is  more  common  than 

O  ^ 

to  hear  the  doctrine  of  Atonement  stated  as  if  the  work  of 
Christ  consisted  in  His  endurance  of  our  punishment  in  order 
that  we  might  not  endure  it.  This  view  of  the  doctrine  leads 
to  the  objections — perhaps  the  commonest  of  all  the  difficulties 
found  in  what  men  take  for  Christianity — that  the  punish- 
ment of  the  innocent  instead  of  the  guilty  is  unjust,  and  that 
punishment  cannot  be  borne  by  anyone  but  the  sinner.  We 
have  seen  that  the  real  vicariousness  of  our  Lord's  work  lay 
in  the  offering  of  the  perfect  sacrifice :  the  theory  we  are  now 
considering  holds,  on  the  contrary,  that  it  lay  in  the  substi- 
tution of  His  punishment  for  ours.  A  partial  truth  is  con- 
tained in  this  theory  ;  for  our  Lord  did  endure  sufferings,  and, 
as  has  been  already  said,  they  were  the  very  sufferings  which 
are,  in  sinners,  the  penalties  of  sin.  But  as  a  simple  matter 
of  fact  and  experience,  the  sufferings  and  the  pains  of  death 
which  He  endured  have  not  been  remitted  to  us ;  and  that 
which  is  remitted,  the  eternal  penalty  of  alienation  from  God, 
was  not,  could  not  be  endured  by  Him.  For  alienation  from 
God  is,  essentially,  a  state  of  sin  ;  it  is  sin,  regarded  both  in 
its  origin  and  in  its  necessary  result.  It  could  not,  therefore, 
be  borne  by  Christ, '  in  Whom  was  no  sin,'  between  Whom  and 
the  Father  was  no  alienation.  Attempts  have  been  made  to 
establish  a  quantitative  relation  between  our  Lord's  sufferings 
and  the  punishment  which  is  thereby  remitted  to  us,  to  prove 
that  the  eternal  nature  of  the  Sufferer  made  His  death  equi- 
valent to  eternal  punishment.  But  even  if  such  attempts,  in 
so  mysterious  a  region,  could  succeed,  it  would  be  vain  to 

310  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

establish  a  quantitative  equivalence  where  there  is  no  quali- 
tative relation.  Eternal  punishment  is  '  eternal  sin  Y  and  as 
such  could  never  be  endured  by  the  sinless  Son  of  God. 

But  we  have  to  face  the  question  which  naturally  follows. 
What,  then,  did  His  sufferings  and  death  mean  1  Why  did 
He  endure  what  are  to  us  the  temporal  penalties,  the  diverse 
consequences  of  sin  ?  And  if  He  endured  them,  why  are 
they  not  remitted  to  us  ?  It  is  true,  as  has  been  shewn,  that 
He  bore  just  those  sufferings  which  are  the  results  and 
penalties  of  sin,  even  to  that  tremendous  final  experience 
in  which  man  loses  sight  of  God  as  he  enters  the  valley  of 
the  shadow  of  death ;  but  He  bore  them,  not  that  we  might 
be  freed  from  them,  for  we  have  deserved  them,  but  that 
we  might  be  enabled  to  bear  them,  as  He  did,  victoriously 
and  in  unbroken  union  with  God.  He,  the  Innocent,  suffered, 
but  the  guilty  do  not  'go  free ;'  for  the  very  end  and  object 
of  all  the  obedience  that  He  learnt  was,  that  He  might  lead 
man  along  the  same  path  of  suffering,  not  '  free,'  but  gladly 
submissive  to  the  pains,  which,  but  for  Him,  would  be  the 
overwhelming  penalties  of  our  sins.  It  may  be  true  that 
'  punishment  cannot  be  borne  by  anyone  but  the  sinner 2,' 
and  therefore  it  may  be  right  not  to  call  Christ's  sufferings 
punishment,  especially  as  the  expression  is  significantly 
avoided  in  the  New  Testament.  But  it  is  certainly  not  true 
that  the  sufferings  which  result  from  sin  cannot  be  borne  by 
anyone  but  the  sinner:  every  day  demonstrates  the  falsity 
of  such  an  assertion.  Sufferings  borne  in  the  wrong  spirit, 
unsubmissively  or  without  recognition  of  their  justice,  are 
penal ;  but  the  spirit  of  humility  and  obedience  makes  them 
remedial  and  purgatorial.  Christ,  by  so  bearing  the  pains 
which  sin  brought  upon  human  nature,  and  which  the  special 
sin  of  His  enemies  heaped  upon  Him,  has  not  only  offered 
the  one  perfect  sacrifice,  but  has  also  given  us  strength  to 
make  the  same  submission,  to  learn  the  same  obedience  and  to 
share  the  same  sacrifice. 

IV.  There  are  many  topics  connected  with  the  Atonement 

1  Cf.  the  true  reading  of  S.  Mark  iii.  29,  R.  V.  2  W.  R.  Greg. 

vii.     The  Atonement.  311 

which  it  is  impossible  here  to  discuss,  but  which  seem  to  fall 
into  their  right  place  and  proportion  if  those  aspects  of 
Christ's  redeeming  work  which  have  been  dwelt  upon  are 
kept  firmly  in  mind.  The  central  mystery  of  the  cross, 
the  forgiveness,  the  removal  of  wrath,  thereby  freely  bestowed 
upon  us,  remains  a  mystery,  and  must  always  be  an  insuper- 
able difficulty  to  those  who  depend  wholly  on  reason,  or  who 
trust  wholly  in  man's  power  to  extricate  himself  from  the 
destruction  wrought  by  his  sin,  as  it  was  an  offence  to  the 
Jew,  and  foolishness  to  the  Greek.  But  mystery  though  it  is 
to  the  intellect,  there  is  a  moral  fitness l  in  the  bestowal  of 
forgiveness  because  of  the  obedience  of  Christ  shewn  in  His 


sacrificial  death,  which  appeals  irresistibly  to  the  moral  con- 
sciousness of  mankind.  The  witness  of  this  is  the  trustful 
gratitude  with  which  the  doctrine  of  Christ  crucified  has  been 
accepted  by  Christians,  learned  and  unlearned,  from  the  age 
of  its  first  preaching.  The  human  heart  accepts  it,  and  by 
the  cross  is  assured  of  forgiveness  :  '  to  them  which  are 
called '  it  is  '  Christ  the  power  of  God,  and  the  wisdom  of 

But  if  we  may  appeal  to  experience  in  support  of  this 
mysterious  truth,  much  more  may  we  claim  the  same  support 
for  the  plainer,  more  human  aspect  of  the  Atonement.  As 
S.  Athanasius  in  his  day  2,  so  we  in  ours  may  appeal  for  the 
practical  and  visible  proof  of  the  Atonement,  to  the  complete 
change  in  man's  relation  to  sorrow  and  suffering,  and  in  the 
Christian  view  of  death3.  This  is  no  small  matter.  When 
we  realize  what  suffering  is  in  human  life,  the  vast  place 
which  it  has  in  our  experience,  its  power  of  absorbing  the 
mind,  its  culmination  in  the  final  pangs  of  death,  and  when 

1  It  should  be    noticed    that    the  3  Cf.  Carlyle's  apostrophe  to  Marie 
Greek  Fathers  and  the  English  divines  Antoinette  on  her  way  to  the  scaffold : 
for  the  most  part  confine  themselves  '  Think    of  Him  Whom    thou    wor- 
to   shewing   this   moral   fitness   and  shippest,    the   Crucified, — Who   also 
consonance  with  God's  moral  nature  treading  the  winepress  alone,  fronted 
in  the  Atonement,  and  do  not  attempt  sorrow  still  deeper  ;  and  triumphed 
to  prove  its  absolute  necessity.     Cf.  over  it,  and  made  it  Holy,  and  built 
Athanasius,  de  Incarn.   Verbi,   ch.  6;  of  it  a  "  Sanctuary  of  Sorrow  "  for  thee 
Hooker,  Ecdes.  Pol.  V.  li.  3  ;  Butler,  and  all  the  wretched.'     Miscellaneous 
Analogy,  pt.  ii.  c.  5.  Essays,  vol.  v.  p.  165  (ed.  1872). 

2  Cf.  De  Incarn.  Verbi,  chs.  27,  28,  29. 

3 1 2  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

we  see  the  transformation,  however  gradual  and  imperfect  it 
may  be,  of  all  this  into  the  means  and  material  of  the  sacrifice 
which  the  follower  of  Christ  is  gladly  willing  to  offer  to  the 
Father  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  we  realize  the  full  force  of 
the  great  words  telling  of  the  destruction  '  through  death  of 
him  that  had  the  power  of  death,  that  is  the  devil,'  and  of  the 
deliverance  of  '  them  who  through  fear  of  death  were  all  their 
lifetime  subject  to  bondage.'  And  the  transformation,  the 
destruction,  the  deliverance,  consist  in  this  that  from  these 
sufferings  His  sacrifice  has  removed  the  element  of  rebellion, 
the  hopelessness  of  alienation,  the  sting  of  sin.  They  are  ours, 
because  they  were  His  ;  but  they  are  ours  as  they  were  His, 
purified  and  perfected  by  obedience,  by  the  offering  of  a  holy 
Will ;  '  by  the  which  Will  we  are  sanctified  through  the 
offering  of  the  body  of  Jesus  Christ  once  for  all.' 






I.  THE  appeal  to  '  experience '  in  religion,  whether  personal 
or  general,  brings  before  the  mind  so  many  associations  of 
ungoverned  enthusiasm  and  untrustworthy  fanaticism,  that  it 
does  not  easily  commend  itself  to  those  of  us  who  are  most 
concerned  to  be  reasonable.  And  yet,  in  one  form  or  another, 
it  is  an  essential  part  of  the  appeal  which  Christianity  makes 
on  its  own  behalf  since  the  day  when  Jesus  Christ  met  the 
question  'Art  thou  He  that  should  come,  or  do  we  look  for 
another  ? '  by  pointing  to  the  transforming  effect  of  His 
work  ;  '  The  blind  receive  their  sight,  and  the  lame  walk ; 
the  lepers  are  cleansed,  and  the  deaf  hear ;  the  dead  are 
raised  up,  and  the  poor  have  the  Gospel  preached  to 

The  fact  is  that  in  current  appeals  to  experience  the 
fault,  where  there  is  a  fault,  lies  not  in  the  appeal  but  in 
the  nature  of  the  experience  appealed  to.  What  is  meant 
by  the  term  is  often  an  excited  state  of  feeling,  rather  than 
a  permanent  transformation  of  the  whole  moral,  intellectual, 
and  physical  being  of  man.  Or  it  is  something  which  seems 
individual  and  eccentric,  or  something  confined  to  a  particular 
class  of  persons  under  special  conditions  of  education  or  of 
ignorance,  or  something  which  other  religions  besides  Chris- 
tianity have  been  conspicuous  for  producing.  When  a  mean- 
ing broad  and  full,  and  at  the  same  time  exact  enough,  has 
been  given  to  experience  the  appeal  is  essential  to  Chris- 
tianity, because  Christianity  professes  to  be  not  a  mere 
record  of  the  past,  but  a  present  life,  and  there  is  no  life 
where  there  is  no  experience. 

316  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

It  will  be  worth  while,  then,  to  bear  in  mind  how  freely 
the  original  defenders  of  the  Christian  Church  appealed,  like 
their  Master,  to  facts  of  experience.  Thus  we  find  an  in- 
dividual, like  S.  Cyprian,  recalling  the  time  of  his  baptism, 
and  the  personal  experience  of  illumination  and  power  which 
it  brought  with  it : — 

'  Such  were  my  frequent  musings :  for  whereas  I  was  en- 
cumbered with  the  many  sins  of  my  past  life,  which  it  seemed 
impossible  to  be  rid  of,  so  I  had  used  myself  to  give  way  to 
my  clinging  infirmities,  and,  from  despair  of  better  things, 
to  humour  the  evils  of  my  heart,  as  slaves  born  in  my  house, 
and  my  proper  offspring.  But  after  that  life-giving  water 
succoured  me,  washing  away  the  stain  of  former  years,  and 
pouring  into  my  cleansed  and  hallowed  breast  the  light 
which  comes  from  heaven,  after  that  I  drank  in  the  Heavenly 
Spirit,  and  was  created  into  a  new  man  by  a  second  birth, — 
then  marvellously  what  before  was  doubtful  became  plain  to 
me,  what  was  hidden  was  revealed,  what  was  dark  began 
to  shine,  what  was  before  difficult,  now  had  a  way  and 
a  means,  what  had  seemed  impossible,  now  could  be  achieved, 
what  was  in  me  of  the  guilty  flesh,  now  confessed  that  it 
was  earthy,  what  was  quickened  in  me  by  the  Holy  Ghost, 
now  had  a  growth  according  to  God  V 

Again,  we  find  an  apologist  like  S.  Athanasius,  resting  the 
stress  of  his  argument  on  behalf  of  Christ  upon  what  He 
has  done  in  the  world,  and  specially  on  the  spiritual  force 
He  exercises  on  masses  of  men,  '  drawing  them  to  religion, 
persuading  them  to  virtue,  teaching  them  immortality,  lead- 
ing them  to  the  desire  of  heavenly  things,  revealing  the 
knowledge  of  the  Father,  inspiring  power  over  death,  shewing 
each  man  to  himself,  abolishing  the  godlessness  of  idolatry  V 

The  Fathers  of  the  Christian  Church  appealed  in  this  way 
to  experience,  because  Christianity,  as  they  knew,  is  essen- 
tially not  a  past  event,  but  a  present  life,  a  life  first  manifested 
in  Christ  and  then  perpetuated  in  His  Church.  Christianity 
is  a  manifested  life, — a  thing,  therefore,  like  all  other  forms 

1  Cyprian,  ad  Donatum  3.     Trans,  in  Library  of  the  Fathers,  iii.  p.  3. 

2  Athanasius,  de  Incarnatione,  31,  48-52. 

viii.     The  Holy  Spirit  and  Inspiration.       317 

of  life,  known  not  in  itself  but  in  its  effects,  its  fruits,  its 
results.  Christianity  is  a  manifested  life,  and  it  is  this 
because  it  is  the  sphere  in  which  the  Spirit,  the  Life-giver, 
finds  His  freeest  and  most  unhindered  activity.  The  Chris- 
tian Church  is  the  scene  of  the  intensest,  the  most  vigorous, 
the  richest,  the  most  '  abundant '  life  that  the  universe 
knows,  because  in  a  preeminent  sense  it  is  the  '  Spirit-bearing 
body.'  The  Spirit  is  life ;  that  is  His  chief  characteristic. 
We  may  indeed  elucidate  the  idea  of  spirit  by  negations  ;  by 
negation  of  materiality,  of  circumscription,  of  limitation  ;  but 
the  positive  conception  we  are  to  attach  to  spirit  is  the  con- 
ception of  life  ;  and  where  life  is  most  penetrating,  profound, 
invincible,  rational,  conscious  of  God,  there  in  fullest  freedom 
of  operation  is  the  Holy  Spirit 1. 

Thus,  obviously  enough,  the  doctrine  of  the  Spirit  is  no 
remote  or  esoteric  thing ;  it  is  no  mere  ultimate  object  of  the 
rapt  contemplation  of  the  mystic ;  it  is  the  doctrine  of  that 
wherein  God  touches  man  most  nearly,  most  familiarly,  in 
common  life.  Last  in  the  eternal  order  of  the  Divine  Being, 
'  proceeding  from  the  Father  and  the  Son,'  the  Holy  Spirit 
is  the  first  point  of  contact  with  God  in  the  order  of  human 
experience  2. 

'  I  believe  in  the  Holy  Ghost,  the  giver  of  life.'  All  life  is 
His  operation.  '  Wherever  the  Holy  Spirit  is,  there  is  also 
life ;  and  wherever  life  is,  there  is  also  the  Holy  Spirit  V  Thus 
if  creation  takes  its  rise  in  the  will  of  the  Father,  if  it  finds  its 
law  in  the  being  of  the  Word  or  Son,  yet  the  effective  instru- 
ment of  creation,  the  '  finger  of  God,'  the  moving  principle 

1  See  S.  Basil's  fine  definition  of  the  with  the  Distributor  ;  then  we  come  to 

term  in  his  treatise  on  the  Holy  Spirit,  consider  the  Sender ;  then  we  carry 

ix.  22.     This  treatise  has  been  trans-  back  our  thought   to  the  Fount  and 

lated  by  the  Rev.  G.  Lewis  for  the  Cause  of  the  good  things.'     Cf.  xviii. 

'  Religious  Tract  Society.'  47  :    <  The  way  of  the  knowledge  of 

3  See  Basil,  as  above,  xvi.  37  :  '  We  God  is  from  one  Spirit,   by  the  one 

must  not  suppose  because  the  Apostle  Son,  to  the  one  Father:  and  reversely, 

(i  Cor.  xii.  4)  mentions  the  Spirit  first,  the   natural   goodness    of    God,  His 

and  the  Son   second,    and    God  the  holiness   of  nature,    His  royal   rank 

Father  third,  that  the  order  at   the  taking  their  rise   from   the  Father, 

present  day  has  been  quite  reversed.  reach  the   Spirit    though  the  Only- 

For  he  made  his  beginning  from  our  begotten,' 

end  of  the  relation:  for  it  is  by  receiv-  3  Ambrose,  de  Spiritit  Sancto,  i.  15, 

ing  the  gifts,  that  we  come  in  contact  172. 

3 1 8  The  Religion  of  the  Incarnation. 

of  vitalization  is  the  Holy  Spirit,  '  the  divider  and  distributor 
of  the  gifts  of  life  V 

Nature  is  one  great  body,  and  there  is  breath  in  the  body ; 
but  this  breath  is  not  self-originated  life,  it  is  the  influence 
of  the  Divine  Spirit.  'By  the  word  of  the  Lord  were  the 
heavens  made,  and  all  the  host  of  them  by  the  breath  of 
His  mouth.'  The  Spirit,  the  breath  of  God,  was  brooding 
upon  the  face  of  the  waters  of  chaos  ere  life  and  order  were. 
It  is  the  sending  forth  of  the  breath  of  God,  which  is  the 
giving  to  things  of  the  gift  of  life ;  it  is  the  withdrawal  of 
that  breath  which  is  their  annihilation2.  So  keenly  indeed 
were  the  Christians  of  the  early  period  conscious  of  the  one 
life  of  nature  as  the  universal  evidence  of  the  one  Spirit, 
that  it  was  a  point  of  the  charge  against  Origen  that  his 
language  seemed  to  involve  an  exclusion  of  the  Holy  Spirit 
from  nature,  and  a  limitation  of  His  activity  to  the  Church  3. 
The  whole  of  life  is  certainly  His.  And  yet,  because  His 
special  attribute  is  holiness,  it  is  in  rational  natures,  which 
alone  are  capable  of  holiness,  that  He  exerts  His  special 
influence.  A  special  in-breathing  of  the  Divine  Spirit  gave 
to  man  his  proper  being4.  In  humanity,  made  after  the 
Divine  Image,  it  was  the  original  intention  of  God  that  the 
Spirit  should  find  His  chiefest  joy,  building  the  edifice  of  a 
social  life  in  which  nature  was  to  find  its  crown  and  justi- 
fication :  a  life  of  conscious  and  free  sonship,  in  which  the 
gifts  of  God  should  be  not  only  received,  but  recognised  as 
His,  and  consciously  used  in  willing  and  glad  homage  to 
the  Divine  Giver,  in  reverent  execution  of  the  law  of 
development  impressed  by  the  Divine  Reason,  in  the  realized 
fellowship  of  the  Blessed  Spirit  of  knowledge  and  love. 
The  history  of  humanity  has  in  fact  been  a  development,  but 
a  development  the  continuity  of  which  is  most  apparent  in 
that  department  in  which  man  appears  simply  as  the  child  of 
nature,  the  most  perfect  and  interesting  of  her  products,  con- 

1  So  Irenaeus,  Cyril  of  Jerusalem,       29,  30. 

Athanasius,  Basil,  Didymus,  Victori-  3  Huet.  Origeniana,  L.  ii.  Qu.  2. 
mis,  express  the  relation  of  the  Divine  c.  xxvii.  Cf.  Athan.  Epp.  ad  Sera- 
Persons  in  Creation.  pion.  i.  23-31  ;  iv.  9-12. 

2  Ps.  xxxiii.  6  ;  Gen.  i.  2  ;  Ps.  civ.  *  Gen.  ii.  7. 

viii.     The  Holy  Spirit  and  Inspiration.      319 

sciously  adapting  himself  to  his  environment  and  moulded  by 
it.  This  indeed  has  been  so  much  the  case  that  the  facts  of 
the  history  of  civilization  have  been  used,  at  least  plausibly, 
as  an  argument  against  our  race  really  possessing  moral 
freedom  at  all.  Such  a  use  of  the  facts  is,  we  recognise,  not 
justifiable.  It  leaves  out  of  consideration  some  of  the  most 
striking  elements  in  human  history,  and  some  of  the  most 
certain  facts  of  human  consciousness.  But  the  very  plausible- 
ness  of  the  argument  is  suggestive.  It  means  that  compara- 
tively very  few  men  have  been  at  pains  to  realize  their  true 
freedom  ;  that  men  in  masses  have  been  dominated  by  the 
mere  forces  of  nature  ;  or,  in  other  words,  that  human  history 
presents  broadly  the  record  of  a  one-sided,  a  distorted  develop- 
ment. For  man  was  not  meant  for  merely  natural  evolution, 
mere  self-adaptation  to  the  '  things  that  are  seen.'  The  con- 
sciousness that  he  was  meant  for  something  higher  has  t